It’s that time of year again. You are probably back at work only to find that all those things that you rushed to get completed before the Christmas break have raised their heads again and life is carrying on very much as normal. Why did we get so stressed about it all?

The festive period however, is a good reminder of what is important and what is less so. It is a time for family and friends, where work, for many of us, takes a back seat. We mustn’t forget our friends in public services, retail and distribution though. For them this is a very busy and stressful time of year. Over a million people were at work on Christmas day.

That aside, it is the break in routine that bring resolutions to the fore. We set out to focus on specific things that we wish to achieve over the following twelve months yet most will be forgotten before January is out. Why is that? In the main because they are unrealistic and unachievable.

The real lesson from setting resolutions is that they are not about becoming a different person but rather to reflect on what is most important to you. No matter how hard you try, unless you are under the age of seven, you are the person you are going to be. You have good attributes and bad habits and the majority of normal character traits in between.

The only resolutions that have any hope of success are those that build upon what you are already good at. Most people like to do what they are good at and most people are good at what they like to do. Identify what these things are and set resolutions related to these and you have a much greater chance of seeing them to fruition.

If you want to set some resolutions here are my guidelines. Go with a small number, they are going to be hard enough to achieve anyway. Make them a mixture of direction (I’m going to read more novels) and measurable events (I am going to pass GCSE Spanish) but above all make them achievable. Aim for things you really want to do rather than what others say are good for you.

Tell people or keep them to yourself, it’s up to you, yet check on them periodically and try to understand why you got through some and others fell by the wayside. This will help with an improved understanding of your own strengths.

Remember that in the end, it doesn’t matter if you don’t achieve them. You certainly won’t be doing anyone any favours by beating yourself up over them. To paraphrase Captain Barbossa in The Curse of the Black Pearl, resolutions are ‘more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.

Happy New Year!