What would Confucius say about your New Years Resolutions?

Most of us get caught up in the hype and excitement of the New Years celebration. Or maybe every year, that one night is a crappy reminder of a year wasted in a job you hate, of non-fulfilled commitments, laziness or over-indulgence of donuts, because they are so damn delicious.

So on that last night of the year you reflect on achievements or regret for what has passed and you and look forward with the spirit of anticipation for what’s ahead and then you do it. You make a resolution. But what to do now? How can you make sure you stick to it?

In an interesting happenstance, the advice of ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius offers you some simple guidance that should be considered when reflecting on one’s ambitious and sometimes impulsive resolutions.

1) The ‘I’m gonna get off my behind and get fit’ resolution

Confucius say: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” AND….. “The man who moves mountains begins by carrying small stones”

The Meaning

It is always that first step that is the hardest. Just take that one small step, and then each subsequent step after that gets easier. And with each of those small steps you will gradually make that change. No one each achieved substantial change overnight (despite the claims of those selling miracle pills). Change only occurs when we step outside of our comfort zone.

It may help to set goals. A common acronym that helps people in setting the right kind of goals is S.M.A.R.T. (Smart. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Timeframe).

You need to set up a routine and targets. Perhaps get your diary out and mark exactly what days you will be exercising and the type of exercise. Essentially a ‘what, when and where’. If you’re not sure how to go about this, seek some advice from your trainer, instructor or coach.

2) The ‘I’m gonna get out of this funk’ resolution

Confucius Say: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall”   AND…..  “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as it doesn’t stop”

The Meaning

This one is can be really difficult talk about. Now I won’t delve into the complex depths of mental health, because I am under no circumstances an expert on such matters. So instead, I will clarify that I am talking about the general and often regular ‘downs’ or ‘funks’ that we all experience. Because in reality, we all have peaks and troughs in life. And sadly some people are dealt more challenges and obstacles in life that others.

But we measure an individuals true strength by those obstacles that they overcome. When in a trough of life, it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. So this is the time that one needs to reflect on all of those challenges and obstacles already overcome and recognise the strength (and glory) that already exists. Use that strength rise above your funk. Take it one day at a time, go slow, but claw yourself out of the hole and never stop fighting for yourself. Because your worth it.

3) The ‘I’m gonna find my dream job’ resolution

Confucius Say: “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”

The Meaning

One again, this one is pretty self explanatory. We all want a dream job. But let’s be clear that every single person has a different idea about what a ‘dream job’ is. For some it may be having flexible working hours or being able to work from home. For other it may mean being able to travel. Or for others it may mean making lots of money. (And I’m pretty sure there are also many people out there that say not working at all is the best kind of work). Whatever motivation may be for your dream job, that is OKAY; because it’s your dream and NOBODY else’s. But what is important that if you choose to do something that you love, it will never seem like work at all (See – that last group had it kind of right).

It all sounds pretty easy in theory, I know. But just ask yourself the question – Why not? What is there to lose by following the path that you feel like you are destined to be on, even if it seems impossible. I have known a number of people, myself included, that have changed the path of their life because they knew that the journey would bring so much more. It is certainly never without sacrifice such as financial. But you have to ask yourself – is my happiness and that of my loved ones worth the sacrifice?

4) The ‘I’m gonna eat healthy’ resolution

Confucius Say:  “Study the past if you would define the future”

The Meaning

This one comes around almost every year for some people. And is then followed by a few weeks of intensive googling and investigation into Fad Diets, followed by 6-8 weeks of starvation. Upon which your bodies metabolism slows down and any perceived results you had in this 6-8 weeks start to reverse itself, you start craving, become depressed and continue the cycle for the rest of the year.

Have you ever noticed the amount of diet and weight loss advertisements that are around at the start of the year. They are specifically targeting those with new years resolutions because that is where they make money. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Good health, nutrition and fitness is a year ’round lifelong thing – coupled with everything in moderation. It’s important not to deprive yourself of life’s pleasures.

Confucius suggests very aptly that if you wish change your future and the way you do things, that you look at how you have done them in the past. If your ‘diets’ have failed in the past, look at why. Were you body goals unrealistic for your body type, did you starve yourself of important nutrients because a particular diet suggested it was bad? Or were you just lazy. Let’s put the excuses aside and have a look at the real reason you didn’t eat healthy. Then and only then can you look forward.


It’s up to the individual whether or not they wish to make a resolution. But if you do make a resolution, try to make it S.M.A.R.T. And take small steps to reach it. Not leaps and bounds. And if that isn’t working, let Confucius final piece of advice help guide you

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached don’t adjust the goals adjust the action steps”