New Year's Resolutions: Are they helpful, should you make them, & how to stick to them?
As one year comes to an end, a new year is about to begin which means New Year's resolutions. This is a symbolic time to turn a new leaf, create a new start, finally be who you want to be. While I love that sentiment (I'm an optimist, so of course I do!), I do have reservations on if New Year's resolutions are actually helpful.
Why would an optimist like me doubt the power of a New Year's resolution?!
Well, I can't help but think if you really really wanted something, you would have already started towards that goal. If you're waiting until the New Year to start this goal that you supposedly really want for yourself, wouldn't you have already started for it? As well, when the New Year's resolution excitement wears off, will you still be dedicated enough to keep trekking towards your goal?
Well then, should I even make a New Year's Resolution?
Even with my doubts about them, I still believe in the power of New Year's resolutions because I am a firm believer in setting goals, big or small. I just don't think you need a New Year to start a new goal. However, all goals start somewhere and if New Year's is the time you choose to create your goal, go for it!
So if I make a New Year's resolution, how can I stick to it?
If you're starting a new goal as a New Year's resolution, my advice is: first and foremost, decide you truly want that goal. Realistically, the newness and excitement of your goals will wear off and you will have to rely on your commitment to those goals to help you keep going. For example, if your goal is to start going to the gym - it may be exciting at first, but you will have days you "just don't feel like it", you're "too busy", "too tired", etc... At that point, you'll have to rely on your desire to reach that goal and your commitment to it to keep you going. Thus, you must truly want that goal for yourself in order to stick to it. So ask yourself: do I want this goal for myself? Am I willing to make that mental and/or physical commitment?
Second, make your goal reasonable. While I think stretch goals have their place (maybe make some of those too!), I believe you should make at least some of your goals realistically achievable. This will help you maintain confidence in your new goals, as you know they're within reach. Sometimes setting goals outside of this realistic achievability can cause you to be disappointed, frustrated, and disheartened with your goals. Back to our gym example from above - if you never exercised, setting a goal of going to the gym 7 days/week would not a reasonable goal. That's basically going from zero to a hundred! In this example, I'd suggest shooting for 2-3 days/week, as that's a much more obtainable goal!
Last, make your goals measurable. This will help you track your progress towards your goals! Whether the measurable aspect is a number of days/week, a timeframe, etc., the numbers will motivate you to either keep up your awesome progress or give you a push to get back on track. In our gym example, we made our goal measurable by saying we'd go to the gym 2-3 days/week. As we stick to this goal, we can always add more measurable aspects like increasing the number of days/week, the time spent at the gym, the amount of weight lifted, and more.
Moral of the Story:
I do not believe you need New Year's resolutions. If you want something for yourself, start that goal now! However, I do believe it is a good opportunity to evaluate whether or not you want to finally commit to that goal and decide you truly want it for yourself. If you truly want that goal, you make it reasonable, and you make it measurable - that New Year's resolution will be achieved!