Every year without fail many people decide to make new years’ resolutions. The type of resolutions vary greatly; often they are about losing weight, getting more exercise, giving something up or making some kind of change. Often these resolutions are broken even before the year has begun.
A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning. This begs the question, why? I for one have never been overly successful at keeping new years’ resolutions, but I have had some success setting goals and working to achieve them, particularly when they are shared with others and articulated clearly to friends, family and colleagues.
In his new year’s resolution book “A course in happiness” author Frank Ra says : “Resolutions are more sustainable when shared, both in terms of with whom you share the benefits of your resolution, and with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution. Peer-support makes a difference in success rate with new year’s resolutions”. I would like to suggest this is the case with any resolution or goal we set for ourselves.
I think the best thing about any change be it a new year, a new job, a new school is that we have an opportunity to reflect on the past and consider what we want our future to be. I remember some years back I left a job I had held for a very long time, it was a job I loved, I had had many successes, learnt from the odd failure, grown enormously in skill and ability and respected those I worked with without question. Leaving was a huge change and a challenge, I had to redefine myself, who I was, what I wanted out of life and above all else what was the next thing I wanted to do. Needless to say this involved some period of contemplation, reflection and a resolve to start the next chapter in my life’s journey.
After taking a period of downtime I realised that the thing that I wanted to do most was to take all the skills I had learnt, all the abilities I had gained to date and to apply them to making a difference in the lives of others. In deciding to choose this path and telling others this is what I wanted to do new doors opened that led me to where I am today, leading this wonderful organisation whose work effects the life of others on a daily basis.
The team here at Pathways to Resilience Trust is completely committed to our work and to making a difference to others. When we all started working together a few years ago we came upon the starfish story and it resonated with all of us and very much became part of who we wanted to be as a team. I thought I would share the story with you.
adapted from The Star Thrower
by Loren Eiseley
1907 – 1977
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “I made a difference to that one!”
It is a wonderful story and one that we have referred to time and time again over the last few years….it is definitely important to us to know we made a difference.