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The New Year often brings a wonderful energy for change, but it easily gets lost in resolutions which ultimately are abandoned. Resolutions are not the best way to move forward. Without the development of a more purpose-centered approach to life, resolutions almost never succeed. So as you consider what you want to do with your life this year, here are ten areas to which you can devote some of your beginning-of-the-year energy:

1. Exercise

We are evolving into a society of couch potatoes. Obesity is an epidemic. When you think “technology” think “not moving.” So moving your body around more this year is one of the best changes you can make. It not only helps you get fit, it’s a natural anti-depressant.

2. Simplify – Reduce Your Stuff
We’re taught to equate “more” with success. So it takes a shift in paradigm to realize that the more stuff you have, the more complicated your life is. Surplus clothing, old toys, books, magazines and bank statements from ten years ago are taking up physical and mental space in your life.

3. Set Direction
At the beginning of my workshops I often ask people to identify their three most important accomplishments of the past year. Many people say it was an accomplishment just getting through the year. There’s more to be done than just stay alive. Dream. Prioritize. Take action on what’s important.

4. Learn to Do Something New
Getting older is no excuse to stop learning. Studies show that if you want to keep your mind sharp you have to keep learning out of the box. Challenge your mind this year.

5. Reduce or Eliminate TV Time

If you knew you that this year was to be your last, how much of your time would you want to spend in front of a TV? Be very selective and find other ways to relax and be entertained.

6. Improve Your Attention Skills
In Japanese Psychology we have a maxim, “Your experience of life is not based on your life, but on what you pay attention to.” Learn how to direct your attention instead of just letting it go wherever it wants to. (Resource – audio program – Life is a Matter of Attention)

7. Give Yourself Away
Look for opportunities to help someone or make a contribution to someone outside your family. Express appreciation. Make someone’s day. More fun that watching TV (see #5)

8. Make Time for Self-reflection
The balance in our lives should be between active/reflective not active/passive. Take some time to reflect on your day, year, life. I wrote a book on this – Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-reflection (Stone Bridge Press).

9. Finish Something That is Unfinished
Get rid of some psychological clutter: a half-written novel, a half-painted bedroom, a not-quite-learned sonata on the piano. Bring a project to fruition.

10. Take a Risk
When author Richard Leider interviewed more than 1,000 senior citizens they said that if they could live their lives over again they would take more risks. The real risk is letting your dream die without ever trying to make it real.

Most people won’t keep their New Year’s resolutions for very long. It’s difficult to break free from the momentum of the past. Purpose and perseverance are critical. We need to shift away from a feeling-centered life and live with more purpose. I invite you to join me on January 9, 2012 for the distance learning course, Living on Purpose. We’ll spend 30 days finding our purposes and learning how to stay on track. It’s a great way to start the year.

This is the short version of Gregg Krech’s essay, Ten Changes to Start You Off on the Right Track in the New Year. The full version is available here. Gregg Krech is a leading authority on Japanese Psychology and has written several books including, A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness. He is the Director of the ToDo Institute in Vermont and the Editor of Thirty Thousand Days: A Journal for Purposeful Living.



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