It’s already February. Do you know where your New Year’s Resolutions are?

Most people give up on their resolutions by mid-January, but if you use some of the research from positive psychology – you just might make it to December.

Caroline Adams Miller is the expert on the intersection of goals and positive psychology and her book, Creating Your Best Life, is the only book in the field to be completely based in research.

Caroline spoke recently at Positive Business DC’s Well-being in the Workplace series.  She reminded us to focus on the three P’s: Preparation, Perseverance and Passion when setting and achieving goals.  We also learned that most people (80%) do not set high enough goals.  Recent research shows that people who set higher goals are happier than those who don’t.  People who set lower goals so that they can achieve them then compare their achievements to what they could have achieved.

Regret.  It isn’t pretty.  Isn’t there an old adage about how we don’t regret what we did do, we regret what we didn’t do?

It’s always great to hear a good speaker encapsulate some of these ideas.  Here is a great link to Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement address that Caroline mentioned.   My favorite quote:  “Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”

In recent research, it was discovered that the biggest wishes of the dying were:

  1. I wish I hadn’t lived my life for others expectations
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
  3. I wish I was able to express my feelings
  4. I wish I had spent more time with friends
  5. I wish I had let myself be happier


The research from positive psychology would say that #4 is particularly important.  It is impossible to get to the highest levels of happiness without close relationships.

I have some quibble with #5 and its wording.  “Letting” oneself be happier makes it sound like if we just gave ourselves permission, bliss would come to us.  It’s much more difficult than this.  We all have a negativity bias and it takes work to counter act that – to find the positive moments in your day.  Barbara Fredrickson, author of Positivity and the new book, Love 2.0 says that increasing your well-being (happiness) is like ‘moving a river’.  It can be done.  It just takes work.  Daily.

Which one of these regrets most resonate with you?  Which ones could you remove from your ‘regret’ list if you set a goal that directly pertained to it?

So think about your New Year’s Resolutions.  And ask yourself this powerful question:  Is there any reason you can’t achieve this goal?

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