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8. What Kind of 2010 Would You Like?

Listening to people talk about New Year, they seem to divide into those who view New Year as a loathsome time when you have to face the fact that yet another year has gone by, and those who are only too happy to bid farewell to last year, and look with optimism at the next. Whichever way you look at it, the turn from one year to the next does tend to make us think, whether it's about the year past or the one to come, and traditionally we mark that turn with resolutions. The trouble with New Year resolutions is that they nearly always entail either doing things you don't want to do (like taking regular exercise) or giving up things that you do want to do (like eating chocolate). Both kinds of resolution are deeply unappealing, which is probably why we only make them once a year. Not surprisingly the good intentions tend to disappear with the Christmas decorations, or soon after. So how about making a new kind of resolution? How about deciding to do some things that you want to do, and give up doing some things that you don't? Laying last year to rest Before looking ahead to 2010, take a few minutes to look at last year. You might like to imagine you can watch yourself going through last year on a cinema screen. What kind of year was it? Was it energising or depleting? Was it new and exciting, or very similar to previous years? Was it full of stress, or was it fairly peaceful? Did you have momentous life events, or did the universe see fit to spare you last year? Most importantly, was it a year you would like to repeat, or one that you would prefer to store safely away in the archives? What would you like to keep doing? Although our psyche's seem to be designed to focus on problems, you can learn much by looking at what has gone well. What brought you satisfaction or enjoyment last year that you would like to maintain or build on? Maybe you became fit by going for a regular run, or volunteered for something you enjoyed. Or took up a new sport or hobby. Or spent enjoyable times with friends, children or partner. Did work go well? Did you strike up a new friendship, visit a new place, or do some different kind of work? What would you like to capture from 2009? What would you like to stop doing? If you have seen the film Love Actually, you may remember the man who is in love with his best friend's bride. He lives in turmoil with his unspoken adoration, but on Christmas Eve he turns up on her doorstep to tell her, via a series of Dylan-esque boards, that he loves her. As he walks away, his heart at last exposed for her to see, he says to himself, 'Enough..... enough now.' Sometimes we spend weeks, months, even years, going round and round the same old circuits and experiencing the same old interactions, thoughts and emotions. And sometimes we need to say, 'enough.... enough now'. What would you like to add? I remember an episode of The Office, when David Brent appraises one of his staff. After they've agreed that the man has more or less achieved his objectives for the last year, Brent looks at him and says, 'So, what are your objectives for next year?' The man looks at him, astonished, and says, 'Same as last year, of course.' While the endless drive to move upwards and onwards is an exhausting feature of modern life, the opposing fear of leaving our comfort zones makes it incredibly easy to settle for a life where nothing new ever happens. We build ourselves such small boxes to live in. If you're thinking that maybe 2010 could be a year for breaking open that box and having some completely new experiences, here are some ideas:

  • Do something completely different. Plan a trip to somewhere new, take up a new interest, move roles or jobs.

  • Do something out of character. Do you ever hear yourself saying or thinking...'I'm not the sort of person who....' How easy it is to become type cast. What would surprise your friends, family, colleagues, and please you? Why not do it?

  • Do something scary. A friend of mine did a terrifying thing in New Zealand - a Canyon Swing, where you leap into a vast canyon at the end of a piece of rope, and are then propelled at a rate of 150 mph across to the other side. 'I can face anything now!' she tells me.

  • Stand up for yourself to someone who frightens or mistreats you. How utterly dehumanising it can be to have your life run by someone else. Time to call a halt.

  • Make some new friends. Our friends are always a reflection of ourselves. If you want to have an exciting life, you need exciting friends - find some!

So, to make your plans for 2010, take a piece of paper and write: 1, What did you enjoy or feel good about last year, that you would like to do maintain or build on? 2. What did you do or experience last year that you would like to stop doing or experiencing, and what would you like to do instead? PS These tips are followed at your own risk. I'm afraid that I can't take responsibility for any injuries, broken marriages, sackings or difficult conversations with bank managers that may ensue as a result of undertaking scary sports, standing up to domineering spouses or bosses, or planning exotic trips you can't afford. PPS If you're looking at your list of 'do's' for next year and it looks or feels like another load of things you need to fit in to an already overstretched schedule, scrap it and write another one that fills you with enthusiasm and energy.