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01 January 2016

Resolve to have fun in 2016

Resolve to have fun in 2016

Are you any good at keeping New Year resolutions? Some people are. Like my sister, who seems to have a will of iron. But I'm not, and I know I'm not alone. No matter how worthy the cause, my resolve rarely makes it to February.

So what goes wrong? Well, partly it's a personality thing. My sister is simply wired differently to me. When she was 13, she decided to become a vegetarian. From that day, she didn't eat meat for 20 years. Despite the fact that when she made the decision she loved bacon and detested any vegetables that weren't peas. She also likes routine. So if she decides to take up Spinning or Zumba twice a week, two years later, she will probably still be doing it. Whereas I loathe repetition. I enjoyed Spinning the first time. Sort of. It was interesting to find out how it worked and what it was. The second time it felt a bit the same. The third time I was so bored.

But the main problem with resolutions is that we generally only make them about things we don't want to do. Things we think we ought, should or must do. The moment I catch myself saying that I 'ought' to do something I know that in reality I don't want to. There are really good reasons for eating more healthily, reading my Bible every day before breakfast and going to the gym, but they are good reasons that I impose on myself. They don't come from within. There have been times in my life when sticking with some of these things has been hugely beneficial, but more often, the strain of working in a way that doesn't fit my personality has emptied these activities of any vestiges of joy they might have contained.

It's very different when we are doing something not because we ought, but because we truly want to. Then, our motivation comes from deep within. When we're doing something that we're good at, has meaning for us and that we love, there is no need for new year's resolutions. It's not a drudge we have to talk ourselves into. It's fun.

I wonder. What are you good at? What are you passionate about? What are the things that set your heart on fire? What leaves you full of life and energy when you've finished, even if it's been hard work? These things reflect who you truly are. The person God made you to be. These are your strengths. Your gifts to the world. What if you could do more of these things you love in 2016?

Sometimes, the things we really want to do get hidden under a pile of stuff we think we ought to do, or that other people think we ought to do. So to do more of the things you love, you might just need to find the courage to dump from your schedule some of the things that don't bring out the best in you. The jobs you've acquired for all sorts of noble reasons, but which are sapping you of time and energy. It can take courage to admit that it's time to stop something we think other people expect us to do. Especially if it carries a degree of prestige about it. But often when we're honest, we realise we've continued way past the point when God intended us to stop anyway. The benefits of stopping the stuff we're no longer meant to be doing can be enormous.

So why not make some resolutions about things that you do want to do? Harness your new year energy and use it to give you some impetus. Treat yourself to a bit of time with God to think and pray about how you can play to your strengths. Ponder these questions: what would you love to do more of in 2016? What dreams have you been shelving? What do you need to stop doing to make space for what you'd love to do? When, on the 1 January 2017, you're looking back at the year, what would you like to say you've done?

Resolve to do more of what gives you life in 2016. Resolve to have fun!

by Catherine Cowell, life and leadership coach and co-author of Loved, Called, Gifted: A practical guide to unlocking your life's calling (paperback £12.99)