What’s my Purpose in Life?

Wow, a deep and meaningful question to open the New Year I know, but hands up if you have asked this of yourself over the past couple of weeks. In fact, hands up if you have asked this on your first day back at work. There are lots of blogs and media articles about ‘back to work blues’, I’m sure you’ve read one. We all know the feeling don’t we, we get it every year.

The biggest adjustment for me (apart from being awake at 6 am, driving a vehicle at 7 am, wearing proper shoes, not being asleep by 3 pm and not eating chocolate and biscuits all day long), is the sheer physicality of sitting at a desk for 8 hours. For those of us in office jobs (and at times like this I wonder if I’d be better placed as a gardener), it is just unnatural to sit on a chair for that period of time; even more so as we have not done so for the past 2 weeks. So, how can we deal with the reality? Breaks, getting up and walking about, changing our work space (I have moved to a different PC to write this blog, quite inspiring actually), and fresh air at lunchtime.

There seems to be two types of people when it comes to New Year. There are those who see it as a chance to write off the past and start the future afresh with excitement and hope. Then there are those who see it as a chance to reflect on the past and what wasn’t and could have been, and feel overwhelmed by the prospect of a blank future. I met with a friend last week who is in the first category. She gushed about the new diary and notebook she got for Christmas and the copious lists she had already written for 2013. She “could hardly wait” for New Year’s Eve so she could immediately begin to action her New Year resolutions. I however am in the latter category. I was asleep by 11:30pm on New Year’s Eve with no list of anything. I feel I should be making New Year promises to myself, but they seem hollow and, to be frank, the same as last year.

Dr Mark Hoelterhoff, Senior Lecturer in Applied Psychology at the University of Cumbria in the UK, has offered some advice on making sensible resolutions and sticking to them throughout 2013.

“In order to make resolutions stick, you need to ask an important existential question of yourself. What is my purpose in life? Picking resolutions that are superficial or incongruent to your values are not likely to last. New Year is a time to reflect on meaningful questions and provide us with an opportunity to act on them. In other words, choose ones that reflect your life and not the life of another person.”

So, what has helped me is the realisation that it’s not as simple as “I will exercise more” or  “I will find my creative side and join a basket weaving class”. Before I can make New Year promises to myself, I need to really think about what is important to me in my life right now and going forward. Deep and meaningful I know, but totally necessary. Maybe just one or two significant and simple promises to myself will emerge and make a difference.

Whatever your approach to New Year’s resolutions, choose what works for you and stick to it. Good luck.


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