THE ONLY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION YOU NEED
By Maria Alice Stock of Bonjour Geneva – a company she started to help expats in Geneva facing the challenge of returning to work after a period as an expat stay-at-home parent.
You want this to be the year of change. The year you will finally get serious about that job search, or getting more organised or exercising regularly. Whatever it is you are determined to change, you probably have enough experience with resolutions to know that it can be quite tricky to keep them. Life gets in the way.
Does your resolution stand on solid ground?
Say you promised yourself to go running three times a week. It all starts very well until you get a cold or it rains five days in a row, or another random thing derails you. Skipping a week or two makes a dent in your motivation. You end up dropping it because who cares and, in any case, I never thought I’d pull this off anyway.
The fact that Google suggests “what are the top ten new year resolutions” as a popular query goes to show that many people set new year resolutions just to conform to a social norm of sorts. After all, aiming to become a better person is just something we’re supposed to do when a new year starts, right?
While temporal landmarks such as the new year indeed help us commit to change, making resolutions for the sake of making resolutions makes no sense. Unless your commitment is grounded on a broader vision, it will be difficult to keep it.
Also, approaching resolutions from a perspective of what you are lacking is counterproductive. Of course, getting fed up with something can be a good driver for change. Remembering how annoying it is not to find your things may help you commit to being more organized. However, if your resolution feels like punishment, it is because it is not grounded on the right feelings or assumptions.
Having one lifelong resolution
What if this time you went for one single permanent resolution? One that is powerful yet flexible enough to accommodate any change of circumstance?
In fact, the only resolution you need is being aligned with your purpose.
What does that even mean, you might be asking.
It means, first and foremost, knowing yourself better. What do you stand for? Your purpose is not something that lies in the future, the prize you will get if you overcome the challenges down the road. Your purpose is what you get up to every day.
Being aligned with your purpose is about asking yourself, every day, how you can be truthful to yourself. It is checking in on the person you already are (a person strong enough to have done everything you’ve done, including moving to Geneva), and seeing what you can do to be your best self most of the time.
It also means making choices based on your purpose. Not out of habit, fear of missing out or third-party expectations. This applies to big decisions as well as small, everyday things. By letting your best self take the lead more and more often, you can make small changes that have a huge impact.
Do you see the difference? The focus here is not on everything that is lacking. Instead, it is on possibilities. It is about daring to be yourself and creating a life with meaning, instead of checking boxes.
From the place you are now, from the stuff you are made of, you are going to reach further and bolder. Always celebrating who you are, never denying it.
Practicing alignment does not get you off the hook on your promises to yourself. On the contrary. You can establish specific goals based on this connection with your purpose and commit to them from a much deeper place.
How to practice alignment
Ok, I’m game to try. How do you do this, anyway?
Practicing alignment is listening to yourself so that your purpose can guide your actions.
The first step is getting clarity about who you are and what you stand for. I like to use a variety of exercises with my clients, including Simon Sinek’s WHY discovery process and Ikigai. This is the starting point of a commitment to the only person who can change things in your life: yourself.
Once you know yourself better, take time every day to check in on yourself. You can start by doing 3 minutes of connection to yourself every morning/evening. If sitting still is not your thing, you can take a walk. Your goal is to create this inner quietness to let whatever is inside you express itself.
It may take some time until you feel comfortable with being in contact with your (deeper) self, for the simple reason that, while we are constantly exposed to Instagram feelgood messages, we don’t usually learn much about sitting with our own stuff.
Write it all down. It doesn’t have to be a long paragraph or even stylistically beautiful. Try to translate into words what you realized and what you want to do about this “new” information. Note all the feelings and ideas that come to you, and the actions you feel inspired to take (and when, if applicable).
Remember, change usually takes place gradually. It’s important to keep a record of your path so that you can congratulate yourself on small progress, understand trends and adjust your actions accordingly.
When making decisions throughout the day, refer back to this moment of connection and to your purpose. Does the opportunity before you bring you closer to your best self? Will it help you achieve the goals you established based on your connection?
Being aligned to yourself will mean saying no as much as saying yes. Your purpose will be your compass, your guide when you find it hard to say no to something that is not aligned with who you are, or when you feel too overwhelmed to move on.
About the author: Maria Alice Stock
I moved to Geneva in 2009 and quickly embraced it as my new home.
Coming from São Paulo, I find Geneva has a perfect balance between the cultural offer and infrastructure of a big city and the quality of life of a smaller-sized city.
I founded Bonjour Geneva in 2017 to help those facing a challenge I experienced first hand: returning to work after a period as an expat stay at home parent.
Knowing how hard it can be to figure out what you want to do and to claim time and energy for your own projects, I have developed a narrative-based approach to guide you through this self-discovery and make room in your mind and in your schedule for your own projects.