10th February 2021
Transformation…one day at a time
I caught up a with a good friend for the first time in 2021 this week, and he asked me if I had a New Year’s resolution. I had to admit that I didn’t, but it got me thinking about the notion of setting a single, big resolution, and why people did it at the start of the year.
I then realised I didn’t have one resolution, but in reality, I had many; what I’ve come to call ‘micro-resolutions’. The peril, I think, of having a single, big resolution is that it’s quite binary – you are either going to achieve it, or not; and my instincts and experience tell me that’s not how real change or improvement happens.
Instead, I’ve been inspired to take the approach of setting a series of micro-resolutions that, if one achieved even half or most of them, one would feel like they’d made progress and brought about some change in their own or another’s circumstances. Change is hard to bring about, and small steps, made with a daily regularity is a more effective approach than going for broke on something that you believe the new year will suddenly make easier.
One of my micro-resolutions is to share more, so here I go; some of the things that I’m trying to do differently, more frequently or better in 2021 (and every year after):
Do more for others:
I’ve come to realise that kindness doesn’t cost much. Every day I have a multitude of opportunities to help other people in some way; an action, some feedback or advice, a donation of time or money. I think of all the ways people have been kind to me and know that I’ve got a debt to settle. So, I’m finding ways to give, to extend a favour, with no expectation it will be returned (though I’m sure it will be in the long run).
Cut people some slack:
It’s very easy to judge others we interact with and assign blame or reason for their actions. Someone doesn’t deliver on a commitment (are they lazy); someone does me a wrong (are they are thoughtless); someone doesn’t measure up (what don’t they work harder). Assigning motive without evidence is uncool. Let’s assume everyone deals with some shitty stuff at times, and we can’t be at the top of our game every day.
Be more thankful:
The Stoic philosophers recommend we take time each day to be thankful for the things we have, rather than the things we desire but don’t have. They call it negative visualization; image the worst things that you could befall you, and then be thankful they haven’t. Take some time each day to appreciate the things you have, like health, family, shelter and recognize that if you’re reading this, you, like me, are one of the lucky ones on this earth.
Make a difference every day:
How do we measure our impact and legacy? What difference can each of us make to the world, our community, our friends and family? I’m not going to espouse a theory of relativity (that Einstein fella pipped me out), but I can try my hardest, put my best foot forward and take pride in my work and contributions. It’s part of me, a reflection of my capabilities and character, and without that attitude in those who went before us, we wouldn’t have the arts, sciences and life that we so enjoy. You’ve got to give a f**k about what you do.
Worship Nature more:
I’m lucky enough to live in a physically beautiful environment, amongst trees and near the ocean in summer, and access to the mountains in winter. I have opportunities every day to be outside, to be in the sea or the mountains, and to breathe in (literally and figuratively) the wonder of nature. I have to include the crazy animals we share our house with and remember that patting a dog is one of the great mutually beneficial things I can do.
There are other things I’m working away at too, and have been for many years, but time has habituated them into how I live every day, so I don’t see them as elements I’m seeking to change; the challenge is maintaining them.
The great thing about my micro-resolutions is that I can do each of them every day, sometimes in multiple ways. And I’m assured by the fact that if I only did each one only once in 2021, I’d still likely be a better person than I was last year.
And that’s the real insight about resolutions, change and transformations; we need to measure our progress in terms of how we’re becoming better people year on year, rather than comparing our lives and selves to others around us.
Have you got any micro-resolutions you’re working on this year? Let me know in the comments.