“18 for 2018”: How to Happy-fy Your New Year’s Resolutions
Do you like to make new year’s resolutions? In their recent episode of Happier, Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft proposed–as an alternative to ordinary resolutions–making a happier project out of 18 things for 2018. In other words, make a list of 18 new things you could do during 2018 that would “spark joy,” to use a Marie Kondo turn of phrase.
As Rubin and Craft see it, these items ideally range from the easy/ mundane (e.g. adopting the habit of making one’s bed every day) to the momentous/ difficult (e.g. training for a marathon, writing a book). They could also include a mix of one-time activities (e.g. cooking risotto for the first time) and more habit-building endeavors (e.g. walking a half hour every morning). This combination affords the list a variety of long-term and short-term, manageable and reach goals.
What these items should share in common is a sense of fun, enjoyment, or satisfaction. Even the “tougher” things one might include can be aimed at cultivating happiness in one’s life rather than curtailing a “bad” behavior. (And keep in mind that one of the ways we derive happiness is through meaningful hard work and effort.)
Rubin and Craft differentiate this kind of list from the usual litanies of New Year’s resolutions, which tend to be imbued with a sense of “ought” and pressure. We gravitate toward resolutions about weight, fitness, or some other area of our life in which we are preoccupied with shame or intractable defeat. They recommend including items on the list that are tangible and inspiring–instead of saying you’ll “lose X pounds this year,” you could list something like “go for a long hike once a week,” especially if hiking is something you love to do and ordinarily don’t give yourself permission to do it. You may not lose X pounds, but hiking is healthy and you’re more likely to stick with something you’re doing out of enjoyment rather than shame.
I’ve been thinking about what I might add to my list.
Here are some prospective candidates so far:
- Clean the sink every night before bed (either by washing the dishes or putting them in the dishwasher) so I can wake up to a clean kitchen;
- Learn how to use the manual settings on my DSLR camera and/or take a basic online photography course (full disclosure: this was actually a new year’s resolution last year but I never followed through on it);
- Knit a rug to use up the old yarn in my knitting stash;
- Declutter one drawer or cabinet shelf per week;
- Make Maultaschen for the first time (one of the dishes I most miss from living in Germany);
- Complete all the Greek lessons in the Duolingo app;
- With my husband, re-commence our monthly game night;
- Start keeping a word journal to expand my vocabulary.
At first glance, some of these list items may seem onerous. I can honestly say, though, that I enjoy the idea of completing each of them–the actual process of doing them, not just the end result of having them finished. Some things–like cleaning the dishes at night–I’ve already started.
You may be wondering why I don’t have any writing or professional goals on this list. Good point! I’m envisioning this whole 18 for 2018 concept as something “fun” to do for myself–unrelated to income, deadlines, etc. I’ll address writing-related goals in a future post.
Until then, will you be making a list of 18 for 2018? What joy-inspiring things will you give yourself permission to work toward on occasion of a brand-new year?
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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Writer’s Loom!