Every January 1st we say it, or something like it: “this year I’ll make working out a bigger priority,” “this year I’m going to focus more on giving back,” or “this year I will give up tequila for good.” Year after year, however, so many of us young professionals flake out, simply continuing to live the same way, and doing the same stuff we did the year before. There are reasons why so many of us fail at keeping our New Year’s resolutions, and thankfully there are also solutions.
Setting unrealistic goals
At first, this may sound like a copout, and for some it may be. But setting goals that are beyond our reasonable capabilities can quickly and easily result in feeling overwhelmed and subsequently, unmotivated. Attempting to give up carbs completely, go running seven days a week, or become best friends with our enemy at work may be setting the bar too high, too fast. To fight the urge to flee from your huge New Year’s resolutions, try a more gradual method, setting smaller but increasing goals along the way. You can also plan your resolutions for, say, January to March, rather than for the whole year. By working up to smaller and/or sooner goals, you will find yourself less overwhelmed and more willing to tackle those reasonable resolutions.
Setting lame goals
One reason that is not often considered, for why so many of us so easily ditch our resolutions, is that sometimes we set the bar too low. Resolutions are all about making a change, improving in some way, bettering our life, or impacting our world. If your New Year’s resolution would cease to have much, if any, affect on your life or the lives of others, whether you fulfilled it or not, you may be low-balling it. It’s easy to scrap a resolution if it was lame in the first place, so step it up and set a goal this year that is meaningful and important.
It’s not for you
Maybe your mother made a comment over Christmas, your boss hinted at it last month, or your friends have been telling you for years. Either way, this year you plan to do something about it. Kudos to you for listening to those who care about you and for wanting to take what they say into consideration, but be careful that those profound resolutions are as a result of your own thoughts and feelings, not just theirs. Before making resolutions based on the opinions of others, first ask yourself if you genuinely agree with them. Are they someone you would normally turn to for advice? Will this resolution make you happy? Resolutions are very personal, and so they can be very easy to flake out of if they are set for anyone other than ourselves.
No one will notice
Another way to get out of fulfilling our New Year’s resolutions is to keep them all to ourselves. While many of us YPs would like to think we are so personally accountable and committed that we could accomplish a resolution all on our own, the truth is the more people to answer to, the better. Publicly own up to your resolution, tell your family and friends about it, write it on your desktop calendar or home screen for all to see, and bring it up around the water cooler at work. Help out the process by forcing some public accountability upon yourself. In addition, support from others that are in the know will help to continually encourage you along the way.
Many people believe resolutions are pointless, but if done right, January 1st, or any day, really, can truly become the “first day of the rest of your life.”