When I was a child great emphasis was placed on making New Year resolutions. Resolution taking was something actively encouraged by my parents and became the central topic of conversation almost immediately after Christmas day was over.

Coming from a Roman Catholic family, it was a bit like the open discussions just before Lent, when we had to let both the Priest and our parents know what we were going to give up for the 30 days leading up to the feast of Easter.

But giving something you like up for 30 days is not really the same as committing to a new behavior pattern for a whole year. Lent was all about satisfying the Priest and your Parents (choosing something that would impress them but would not cause too much personal discomfort, like chocolate – you could still eat sweets but just none with chocolate on, although you obviously didn’t mention the sweets bit!)

New Year Resolutions are different from penance, as they are all about self improvement, attempts to try to change an aspect of oneself that one is not happy with (weight, personality, career etc.).

During the Christmas period I have been looking at 2007, at what could have gone better, where I could have performed to a higher standard and even how I could have been happier. The conclusion I have come to for my new year resolution 2008 is to try and reject all the negative thoughts that enter my head like mischievous demons and turn me into a ‘grumpy old man’ (I refer my readers to the BBC TV series of ‘Grumpy old men’).

The negative demons I mention are in fact quite a problem. I see something or interact with something (mostly builders public company’s and/or government institutions) and all I see is negative. For example; poor excuses for trains being late, lazy postal workers, incompetent logistics systems that deliver your 500 Nespresso coffee capsules to an address in Walonia, rather than to your office in Brussels. Narrow minded customer service employees who simply do not listen to what you are saying because their bosses only give them 10 seconds to categorize you into the correct enquiry channel – ‘new orders’, ‘complaints’, ‘refunds’, ‘accounts’ etc. I could go no forever, for example: irritating adverts for products that no one needs, or are so generic that they simply do not need advertising (such as electricity or soap).

So this year Harley is going to be far more positive, he is going to reject all negative thoughts that enter his head, he is not going to waste his precious waking hours by sweating over the unimportant, irritating stuff that he has little or no control over. He is no longer going to be a grumpy old man, but a rejuvenated male adult with even more positive energy than he had last year. Harley is going to be happier and his, colleagues, family and friends are going to notice the difference. Not only for the first month of 2008 but for the whole year!

Now in the blog I wrote on the 11th. of November of last year 'Who is your Guru?’ I mentioned I was reading ‘The Monk who sold his Ferrari’ by Robin Sharma. Well during the Christmas period I finally read the book and found it very enlightening. It is not a book I would recommend to everyone, it is not on my ‘must read’ list because it has several flaws and the style of writing, especially the dialogue’, is poorly written and incredible. However from the second chapter onwards there are pearls of wisdom on every page, in fact so many that it becomes tedious and predictable. But like all management and self improvement type books, you should read them through quickly, pick out the stuff that makes sense to you and park the rest until you find yourself needing it.

Some of the book’s personal growth wisdom you can also find in my book, 'Making a Difference' but my stlye is very different. However if you are open to a certain level of Asian mysticism and even to a little spirituality, you can gain a lot from this book. It has inspired me to rekindle my 10 minute a day mediation exercises that I dropped when I needed to squeeze more working time into my day by switching from taking a morning bath to having a shower to gain an extra 10 minutes!

So there it is my New Year’s resolution, cut out all negative thoughts, is out in the open – now it will be impossible for me to drop it, because everyone knows it and I will be seen as a failure if I do!

Happy New Year!

PS my wife has just read this article and insists I print it out so that she can put it on the wall in the kitchen – suddenly my 2008 new year resolution is looking like a tough challenge! 😉