Will You Be Making New Year Resolutions?
We’re about to be bombarded with well-intentioned suggestions as to how we might make 2O17 a happier, healthy experience. So, I thought I’d get in there first, by sharing the wisdom of wellbeing experts, aka psychologists, and inviting you to reflect on what will make a positive difference to you.
Revolve Not Resolve
- Revolution is all about turning things upside down (revolvere in Latin means to turn over] with the intention of bringing about radical change.
- Resolution is all about finding a solution to a challenge or problem [resolvere in Latin means to untie or release].
So, when we make New Year resolutions, what are we trying to resolve or release? My sense is that our efforts would be better placed learning from past experience, and mistakes, and revolving our mind towards doing something radically different, which might be as simple as being kinder to ourselves.
So, let’s turn to what the science of psychology has to teach us:-
Make A Plan, Keep It Simple
Professor Richard Wiseman, Hertfordshire University, shares his wisdom on the NHS Choices website and recommends that we limit our intended change to just one area of our life and that we develop a plan for change. According to research, just 8% of those making resolutions will achieve their goal. Prof Wiseman encourages us to break down the desired change into smaller goals that can be tracked more easily. He also warns us that we should expect our old habits to get the better of us, on occasion, and heeds us to keep our eye on the desired outcome and not let the mishap undermine our intention.
Evidence Based Change Management
If you’re looking for evidence based guidance on how to improve your health, eg losing weight, quitting smoking, exercise, you will find expert guidance on the NHS Choices website.
Successful Changed Behaviours: Explore The Detail
Lucy Maddox, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, offers guidance in her 2016 New Year Huffington Post blog, emphasising the importance of developing your initial abstract idea of desired change into a detailed day-to-day plan of action. Lucy refers to the practice of motivational interviewing and its facility to help people to connect with a deep seated and energetic motivation to grow and thrive, whereby an individual will be coached to explore the detail of the pros and cons of change and to measure the potential benefits of change versus the risks of the status quo. This model assures us that a well thought out plan, with sufficient external support, like coaching, and a clear motivation for change will lead to successful changed behaviours.
Recognise Irrational Thinking For What It Is
Similarly, James Rose, Therapist and Performance Coach, wrote in the Huffington Post, New Year Resolution Conundrum, advocating a strong framework for change. James reminds us of the pervasive failure to achieve resolutions, with the calendar event, Fail Friday, the last Friday in February, by which date most resolutions will have been broken. James invites us to develop our self-awareness of what we’re like now and imagine what we would be like, having made the change. He invites us to recognise when our irrational thinking isn’t helping us to sustain the change, and to understand our internal critical voice for what it is, a thought not a truth.
Change For The Benefit Of Others
Oxfam reminds us of the importance of bringing about positive change for others, not just ourselves with a teaching resource for schools, where children are invited to consider what they can do, as part of their New Year resolutions, to help end poverty across the globe. By extending the desire for improvement beyond the self, we are developing our sense of inter-connection and exercising our spirit of generosity.
Acts Of Generosity For Wellbeing
PsychAlive reports that one of the biggest benefactors of generosity is the person who is dishing it out. A 2OO3 study at the University of Michigan revealed that the more directly we see our personal efforts impact someone else, the more we gain from the experience of giving. So by focusing on what we can do to change the experience of others, by acts of generosity, we, indirectly, bring about changes in ourselves that improve our sense of wellbeing. While this approach does not address what you want to change about your own behaviours, it will exercise your ability to be kind, to yourself and to others.
Kindness: A Resolution Revolution
Whoever heard of such a nonsensical New Year resolution; to be kinder to oneself and others? And yet, some might argue that kindness is just what the doctor would order, to heal our increasing experience of stress, poor mental health and discontent. Just by random acts of kindness, you can contribute to a national campaign for increased collective wellbeing, a New Year resolution that will turn you upside down.
Strategic Planning For Psychological Wellbeing
Following the expert guidance of psychologists to develop a smart plan to execute change in our personal lives, employers can choose to take a strategic approach to promoting psychological wellbeing in the workplace. By applying evidence based psychological models, and taking a longer term view of a shared goal for a happier healthier workforce, it is possible to address work related stress, reduce poor mental health and related absences, while maintaining performance. Maybe in 2017 you might consider becoming a Mindful Employer.
Health, Work And Wellbeing- Evidence And Research
One possible business New Year resolution would be to start monitoring wellbeing at work and take stock of your current workplace practices and ethos. Do you insist on a full lunch break, allowing time to rest busy minds? Do you promote wellbeing with lunch time mindfulness training? What would a wellbeing strategy look like and how much would it cost? Dame Carol Black is the Department of Health’s Expert Advisor on improving the welfare of working people and is urging employers to consider the growing evidence that strategic wellbeing management promotes performance.
Best Practice Via Skills Development
Having considered the evidence, you may be asking yourself, ‘where do I begin?‘ How about taking a fresh piece of paper and starting right at the beginning with an introduction to wellbeing needs assessment workshop? Our workshop draws on the Health & Safety Executive Management Standards guidelines for management competences to promote employee wellbeing, as well as best practice as defined by NICE, National Institute for Clinical Excellence. We adopt a skills development approach to strategic wellbeing training and coaching, giving you the tools and resources to create policies and practices appropriate to your business. You will leave our workshop with an action plan for change and a connection with other businesses managing wellbeing.
Namaste Culture – A Wellbeing Revolution
As the expert psychologists invite us to be smart in how we go about planning for change, we, including our own business psychologist, Katherine Webster, invite you to benefit from our range of training programmes and coaching. Whether you opt for our 8 week Mindfulness at Work Programme, to build your personal resilience to stress management, our strategic project management series, or our 12 month management skills development programme, we will help you turn your business around towards best evidence based practice and employee investment.