New Years resolutions are not only a great way for gyms to raise their membership numbers but also just in general great motivators. They give us an initiative to stop and reflect on what we want to change in our day-to-day and encourages us to sit in the driving seat of that change. By being formed, they add a direction to life, a sort of map or structure outside of the regular routine. Some can even see it as a sort of guidance to living your best life as you define it. Life can be sometimes rather volatile and seem directionless if we don’t take it into our own hands. Hence setting goals is a good way to feel in control and feel in charge of change, which in all honesty is inevitable in all lives. The good thing is also, that resolutions come from an area of positivity – aimed to add more positivity to your life. They are never self-damaging (like “I should drink more” or “Lets eat more fast food”) but always in the sense of self-care and thus should be encouraged.
Well if they are so great – then why are they so hard to stick to? We have intentions all the time that we don’t stick to – diets, goals to exercise more, eat better or sleep more – why would it be any different with New Years resolutions? Why do we expect them to work when other types of change we try to enforce doesn’t? For one, their name already limits them. They are confined around a certain time of the year. Who hasn’t gone to the gym for a month after New Years or done Dry January? It’s harder to extend the intention if its limited to a certain moment in your life – like every January.
But is that so bad? Even if we stick to something positive for a short time – it has certainly benefited our lives. Even if it was just a little bit. But often we fail to see that. We often feel rotten when we don’t stick to resolutions for a whole year. We feel guilty and bring ourselves down. We end up in a worse place then where we were at the beginning where we set our resolution. Which in turn, turns into a spiral of not setting goals in the first place and never taking initiative to improve our lives adding to a feeling of passiveness and helplessness. Here are some tips to prevent that:
1) Be kind to yourself. You tried, and that is a lot. Our society measures us on achievements but only what they define as achievements. Define it yourself. Who said that because you can barely play one song on a guitar that that is not playing the guitar? Who said that running for 20min is not jogging? Because it is. You don’t have to be perfect or hit a milestone other people hit to achieve a goal. Be kind, listen to yourself speak those 5 words in Korean you learned – stop putting yourself down.
2) Be happy with your small steps. We often start too big – like go to the gym every day, or as mentioned in the previous point, learn the guitar. Instead of setting small achievable resolutions (learn 2 songs) – we say big, vague statements that almost seem impossible to achieve in the first place. You are setting yourself up to fail. In life coaching we say “Chunk it”. Break it into little achievable items and if they are too big, make them even smaller. Once you achieve those – you can always add more and more on top while enjoying the fact that you achieved the small goal in the first place.
3) Be focused. Just because you said the goal doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. You said a goal because something inside of you wanted it. No one forced you to. They are not exams, taxes or laws. You are doing this for you. So many things in your life are determined by external things – this is a thing that came internally from you – don’t let it be less important than anything else. List all the things you have to do (iron, laundry, work, call your mother, put away the dishes etc) and then list the things you do for yourself. You can fit in a little time for you each day for what makes you happy. Even just 20min of your day is 1.4% of your day. 20min to read/ write in a journal/ blog/ sing whatever your heart desires is enough. The rest of the 98% can go to other things. Stick to what drives you.
Let me know how your resolutions go!