Since it’s New Year’s Eve, some people will be making New Year’s resolutions. There will also be a number of “think pieces” telling people resolutions are bad. I think those pieces are bad, but that’s just me. I have no interest in telling people what they “should do”. I also don’t like when these types of articles try to encourage people not to try. In that vein, I thought I would break down the idea of making New Year’s resolutions, and why I revel in making them.
First off, yes resolutions can be broken. It happens, and it doesn’t make you a failure. New Year’s isn’t the only time resolutions can be made, but it is an opportunity. Resolutions are basically a commitment to change a habit, or to achieve a goal. Putting that into perspective means we can make them, whenever we want. We can do that tonight, or when it makes sense to start them. I love making New Year’s resolutions. I also set various goals throughout the year. I like taking the opportunity to set resolutions for the New Year, because it’s a way to start the year off on a positive note of working towards positive changes in my life. We can always hope to change, evolve and do better. Why not use every chance we can get, to make that happen?
When I make resolutions or goals, be it for New Years or throughout the year, I do so with a couple of general rules, which I thought I would share:
- Don’t be hard on yourself. No resolution will be helpful to you, if all the resolution does is stress you out. It should be defined in a way that motivates you.It should be a positive goal, and one that lifts you up.
- Make the resolution something reasonable. If it’s too steep of a challenge, it will just set you up to fail, and that kind of self-sabotage is not healthy or helpful. If you have a really big goal, break it down into sub-goals, and let each sub-goal be individual resolution/goals. Do one at a time.
- Map out a plan. If your plan is to bring lunches into work, but you don’t shop for the groceries, or schedule time to prep those meals, it will be hard to achieve that goal. If your plan is exercise 3 times a week, consider putting 3 times in your calendar. Setting that time aside can help ensure you don’t subconsciously put it off, and end up at the end of the week, with 3 days of exercise still outstanding.
- Give a reasonable timeline. If your goal is to lose 50 lbs, 1 month is not a reasonable timeline, and that wouldn’t be healthy. If it’s a health related goal, before your resolution start date (i.e. New Year’s Day), consult with your doctor to determine a healthy timeline. The other end of this, is to say that a timeline should exist. Having one, will encourage making milestones or phases of the goal/resolution, that should take place before the goal will be reached. Maybe that includes making an appointment to see your doctor, going to the appointment, and implementing the plan.
Having a deadline, can encourage you to get the ball rolling and keep it rolling. Not having some sort of goal completion date, can encourage procrastination, which I myself, am often having to battle. Just keep in mind, that as long as you are making progress, it’s ok to re-evaluate that goal date, and it’s absolutely ok to adjust it. If your resolution timeline is 6 months, and at 4 months in, you see it’s going to take another 3 months, set a new completion date and accept that you are still working hard to achieve it. It’s just a goal date, to encourage completion. That’s all.
- Don’t start too many resolutions/goals at once. Having goals is great, but too many will be like adding ornaments to a Christmas tree. Eventually you weigh down the tree, and it will topple over. You’ll likely find more success with a few small goals, instead of a ton of big ones. A lot of small steps can take you far. Life is a journey, so a lifetime of small steps, can take you around the world. On the other hand, trying to take giant leaps, can result in injuries and set backs, and end up with you going no where.
- If you want to be able to reward yourself for hard work, when a resolution or goal is met, make sure the reward is healthy. i.e. if your goal was to lose weight and the reward is cake, that might be a little counterproductive. Lost weight? How about a new piece of clothing? Quit smoking? How about a new piece of workout equipment, or making plans to go on a hike with friends and your cleaned out lungs?
- Determine the best level of accountability. Some people think you have to share every time you go to the gym, or every resolution you are planning, with the entire world. Others don’t want to share any of it with anyone, until they succeed at the goal. Both can be traps. I know, right?
Making everything public, can end up making you feel like there are so many people watching, it’s too much pressure. Not telling any one can make it easier to abandon the goal, because there is no accountability. Instead of having to do what those “think piece” articles say “everyone” should do, do what works for you. It’s ok if one way doesn’t work, but be aware of that, as you learn it. There are different levels of helping yourself be accountable.
- Journal your journey, from start to finish of your resolution or goal.
- This can be a hand written journal, typed, or video journal.
- There is no rule that you have to post this online or ever share it with anyone.
- Do what feels good, but not what will make you anxious or nervous.
- Share the goal/resolution with a therapist
- Share it with 1 or more close friends
- Share it with your facebook family
- Share it with the world, in a public forum of your choosing
The bottom line is this. Any chance to set goals, for bettering your life, is good. Just be sure you make it a positive experience. Set reasonable goals, reasonable timelines, and ensure the resolution, and who you share it with, are being planned in a positive framework, so they will be ones you want to embrace and not something you loath.
Good luck, and may the coming year be one of setting and achieving all you desire.