What Dickens’ 3 ghosts tell us about resolutions

Ghost of Christmas PastI know, I know – you’ve probably seen a dozen New Year blogs, New Year products and other activities based around the idea that now is the time to change yourself.

Thing is, it is true. Now is not the only time when you can take hold of your life and really get to grips with the changes, but in many ways it is the best time. Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a delightful tale that can be seen as one man’s epiphany through the lessons of the three ghosts. It’s a bit of a stretch but I’ve used these three ghosts to show why, even though it is a cliche, this is certainly the best time to make those big changes in your life.

  1. Christmas Past. As time goes on in life there tend to be more sore points, some personal relationships become tricky and conflicted. Tensions develop. These ghosts of Christmas past start to emerge with startling rapidity. Consequently Christmas becomes a bumpy ride for many of us and a miniature of our bigger problems. Weight issues increase, relationships are at their most tense, we drink more, we worry more about money. With this. for some,  comes the motivation to deal with it once and for all.
  2. Christmas Present. SAD but true (probably) – it is becoming accepted more and more that the loss of light in our Winter can reduce our vitamin D, especially if we retire into our caves, away from what little light there is. and huddle up in front of the fire to avoid the cold weather. The more positive among us naturally try to find solutions to Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms by finding new purpose or focusing on an aspect of their life and improving it. I believe this is also why the motivation to action tends to decline as the year progresses. We simply start to feel a bit better and then become complacent once more.
  3. Christmas yet to come. The flip of the calendar – simple fact that we are beginning a year anew, pre-supposes change. Just the fact that we are approaching a New Year pre-primes us to anticipate change. Sub-consciously we expect there to be new things. That is why the Gym memberships shoot up, the new diet videos are launched and the stop-smoking patches sell out.

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In my book [amazon_link asins=’1503280756′ template=’productlinktext’ store=’websiteapplinks-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’598bc07b-cecc-11e6-ac41-fb76445586dd’] I recommend selecting one specific resolution to work on initially,  and I stand by the principle that having a single focus can result in greater success than having multiple habit changes on the go at the same time.

However, resolutions aside, I always use this time to have a complete system reset. I believe that no matter what our long-term plan may be, no matter whether life is good or life is bad, we need to spend some quality time creating a vision of what is good for us, now.

So at the start of each year, I:

  • Check in with my Values
  • Reflect on my roles in life
  • Update or rewrite my Mission Statement
  • Clarify my long-term and short-term goals
  • Establish the priorities and key tasks
  • Select the habits I need to adopt, improve or reject.

I do encourage you to find some time for yourself to do something like this too. Whatever the level you do it at, there will be benefits. You may find that actually you are already on the right track, or you may need to make adjustments in just one or two areas. Or you may be inspired to make a step change and rediscover your deepest passions.

There isn’t enough space here to go into all of the detail of how you go about doing this. If you are a client you may have experienced some of this process with me already.  You can also get help from many excellent books, or you can sign up for a ‘Breakthrough’ day with me.   I am also shortly launching some new ‘Annual Coaching Packages’ that help you develop the mission and vision and also hold your hand through the process.  As soon as these packages become live I’ll update this blog with links to the details, and if you want to be notified directly when they go live, you can just sign-up here:In the mean-time here are some ideas to get your New Year off to a spookily good start.

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Robert Sanders is a therapist and life coach, supporting people in their present and helping them create their future.

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