Checking In on the those New Year’s Resolutions
Checking In On Those New Year’s Resolutions
We are a few weeks into the new year, which is a great time to check in about those highly anticipated, often quickly neglected, New Year’s resolutions. January tends to be a popular month for people to set out to reset, creating goals for the year ahead and/or taking on a month-long challenge like “Dry January” or the Whole 30 diet. It often feels like a strategic time to set forth with implementing change, as a new year signifies a new sense of direction. The societal consensus about the new year’s resolutions creates an energy and motivation for change that feels different than other months of the year. Despite positive intentions, it is not uncommon for people to fall off course and ultimately forego their resolutions altogether within the first month of the year. However, this does not have to be the case. In fact, now may be a great time to revamp those new year’s resolutions in order to create more sustainable intentions for the year ahead. Continue reading for some tips and tricks to more realistic and long-lasting goal setting.
First, consider why your goals are what they are. Are you aiming to do something because you genuinely want to do that something, or because you feel as though you should? According to Madeline Weinfeld, LMSW goals inspired by our intrinsic wants are far more likely to be pursued than those that are motivated by external pressures from family, friends or society as a whole. Dedicate some time to revising your goals to more closely align with your personal values and desires. Your goals should look like things that you want to do rather than things you feel you ought to do.
Once you feel that your goals are in fact things that you care about, take some time to review the list and see if any of your goals seem in conflict with one another. Often, people neglect to realize that two of their goals are in opposition, making it difficult if not impossible for them both to happen. For example, a goal to spend more quality time with friends during the week may require you to leave work earlier to make happy hour with friends. This would likely interfere with a goal to be promoted at work which could require putting in some extra hours at the office. Tweak goals to creatively figure out ways that your goals can actually support one another rather than oppose each other. Perhaps some of that quality time with friends can be spent doing walkalong each other at a coffee shop or library.
Lastly, consider how realistic your goals are. Though there is value in the hope and optimism that often comes with the bigger, more extreme goals, these are often the more unrealistic ones that people fall off of a few weeks into the new year. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t create big goals, but rather consider creating smaller, more incremental steps that can cumulatively add up to that big picture goal but will hold you accountable along the way. The satisfaction of accomplishing one of the smaller targets will serve to positively reinforce the behavior, making it more likely that you will continue towards your goal. When we fail to succeed at anything, we feel discouraged, and that negative emotion becomes associated with the goal, thus decreasing our likeliness of continuing. Therefore, creating the more specific, more structured and more incremental goals increases the likeliness of sustainability. So rather than going from never running into 2019 to setting out to be able to run a half marathon (vaguely defined goal with no structure or time expectation), consider defining your goal as “add 0.3 mile distance to my run each week, until I can successfully run 13.1 miles”.
Happy New Year to all of the Gateway to Solutions community! We hope 2020 is a year filled with health, happiness and meaningful, realistic goals and intentions.