Fireworks Obscured By Bus

Every New Year’s Eve at midnight we wish each other Happy New Year, but how much do we really do to help make it a happier year than the one before?

In the run up to January I’ve already discussed simple goal setting as a way to ensure you don’t drop your New Year’s resolutions like hot potatoes the minute all of life’s myriad distractions get in the way by around say.. 6th January.

The Difference Between Resolutions & Goals

But according to Gretchen Rubin, whose bestselling book of the same name describes her year long Happiness Project, which she continues to write about on her hugely popular blog, there might well be some wisdom in making resolutions rather than goals:

I’d noticed idly that a lot of people use the term “goal” instead of “resolution,” and one day in December, it struck me that this difference was in fact significant. You hit a goal, you keep a resolution. “Run a marathon” makes a good goal. It’s specific, it’s easy to measure success, and once you’ve done it, you’ve done it. “Sing in the morning” and “Exercise better” are better cast as resolutions. You won’t wake up one day and find that you’ve achieved it. It’s something that you have to resolve to do every day, forever.

Striving toward a goal provides the atmosphere of growth so important to happiness, but it can be easy to get discouraged if reaching the goal is more difficult than you expected. Also, what happens once you’ve reached your goal? Say you’ve run the marathon. What now—do you stop exercising? Do you set a new goal?

With resolutions, the expectations are different. Each day I try to live up to my resolutions. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but every day is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity. I never expect to be done with my resolutions, so I don’t get discouraged when they stay challenging. Which they do.

Keeping track of how well you’re sticking to your resolutions though is another matter. Rubin was inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s ‘virtues chart’ to keep her own Resolutions chart where she could tick off each day that she achieved it. You can use the toolbox she provides on her site to do the same, or for a simpler solution, Joe’s Goals does a similar thing (or you could even use a good old fashioned pen and paper).

There Are No Good Answers Without Good Questions

Rubin also has some good suggestions for questions you can ask yourself if you want to be happier in the year ahead. I talk through a few of these in the video below – hope it’s useful (our cat certainly didn’t seem to find it very interesting, and even yawns at one point!).

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You can buy The Happiness Project from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk if you want to find out more (Amazon affiliate links). Personally I found I didn’t relate to her life very much so found the details a bit mundane, but I still think a lot of her research was very interesting and the book will definitely make you think about how to improve your day to day life in small but effective ways.

15 Comments

  1. Wait, is there meant to be a video in this post? I don’t see it …
    Nine recently posted..Gumboot

  2. Great video. Next time, let Millie do the talking! lol – jk – happy new year.

    How could drinking not make you happy? If you’re not drinking this year…not sure how happy you’re going to be but keep us posted. Can an alcohol free-year make a man happy? I guess you’re about to tell us?

    • Cheers Vishnu and ha ha! Millie is definitely cuter but not the best conversationalist!

      I only said I wasn’t drinking during January, the rest of the year I will be aiming for moderation. I did attempt to go off it for a year once before but only managed 3 months.

    • Oh, and Happy New Year to you too!

  3. Great entry to the new year to make things better for ourselves! I, too, am off the booze … am an all or nothing drinker; have decided for my health and well-being, it’s got to be nothing for awhile. Good luck w/your good choices! Will also check out the ‘Happiness’ book. Sounds like a good read!

    • Hi Carol, glad you found it useful. I know what you mean about drinking – hopefully we will manage it together! Thanks for taking the time to comment, it’s appreciated.

      • My husband & I went out to dinner last night for our wkly Date Nite at a new Italian restaurant. Italian food ALWAYS calls for wine, right? But now that we’re non-alcoholic customers, what to do? We’ve always enjoyed our drinks while we chat before we order our meals, taking our time and just enjoying each others’ company. Last night we ordered an appetizer in lieu of drinks. It worked out great, and I didn’t feel deprived of our missed ‘cocktail hour.’ Hmmm … maybe there CAN be fun w/out booze! Who knew? My main goal for 2012 is to be good to myself; this is a good start. The Clear-Minded Creative is a welcome addition to my goal. (o:

        • Sounds good Carol, might have to try that too. Definitely a worthy goal and very glad you think the blog can help!

  4. Great video Milo, loads of good questions, I’m going to have a think about them. Looking forward to reading more from you this year (:
    Emily recently posted..My Annual General Review of 2011

  5. Hi Milo, good post to keep us motivated. I’m feeling that January surge of inspiration too and looking for things to inspire whichever side of my brain needs inspiring. Both sides probably. I’ve found that stuff that I wanted to do last January (like the thirtyphotos thing for example) I didn’t get round to doing but instead found myself engaged in other projects like film-making, photo shoots for people, making my website better, etc. So, although I feel a bit down about not achieving certain goals I have to remind myself that I did DO things which is all too easy to forget sometimes.

    See you soon hopefully! If you’re on the smoothies I can get down with that too.

    John
    John recently posted..Munro Film (in production)

    • Hey John I’ve seen some of the stuff you’ve done and it looks great – you’ve definitely been creative over the last year. Would definitely be good to hook up soon! How about a Clear-Minded Creative Coffee Club?