I hope that everyone’s New Year went well and that you’re off to a strong start at making this year a memorable one. I, for one, have been in the mend from my recent back surgery, so while I haven’t been doing all that much in the way of my resolutions yet, I’ve really been enjoying just resting and spending time with my family before I inevitably have to go back to school.
I’ve really been enjoying seeing people getting a start on their goals for the new year, and seeing everyone’s excitement about bettering themselves.
To me, the only reason to have a resolution at all is to make your life better. And you would think that this would be an easy task, wouldn’t you? Well, my dear. You would be entirely wrong.
According to U.S News and World Report, approximately 80% of resolutions fail by mid-February for one reason or another.
So I, curious being that I am, wondered why exactly this was. I mean, one comes into the new year with the hope that their resolutions will help them to achieve whatever goal they have planned. So why is it so fucking difficult for us to follow through?
The New York Times says that the top reasons that resolutions fail are:
- It’s a resolution created based on what someone else (or society) is telling you to change.
- It’s too vague.
- You don’t have a realistic plan for achieving your resolution.
And honestly? In a trend that happens every single year without fail, hordes of people say “I’m going to lose weight”, “I’m going to drink more water”, or “I’m going to read more”. Which, to me seems awfully uncanny to the reasons for failure listed above.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that you can’t make resolutions like these. But when making resolutions, you have to do more than just throw around an abstract idea like “I’m going to save more money”.
One way to create goals, which a lot of people are taught as young as middle school, but seemingly forget, is the SMART method. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. I, for one, learned about this method when I was in the seventh or eighth grade, but it’s been really helpful as I’ve gone through life whenever I had to make a goal for something.
For instance, one of my resolutions for this year is regarding weight loss. To push off a second surgery for a few years, I need to get down to a healthy weight. In doing this, I’ve determined a specific goal for this year in the measurable weight that I want to lose. I’ve spoken to my doctor and done the research to know that it is attainable. Because my goal applies to something in my life, namely my back surgeries, I know that it is a relevant goal. And finally, I have an end goal in sight that is time-based (“I want to lose x amount of weight before summer vacation so that I hopefully can avoid another surgery on my back for the next few years.”)
Without making your goals realistic, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. And failure, in turn, takes a toll on one’s mental health and wellbeing. In an article published in Business Insider, we are told: “It’s easier to drop out or walk away when you set goals or resolutions that are vague.”
“But Hailey, how can I create a resolution that will help me have a greater quality of life, and contribute to my personal wellbeing?”
Well, my dears, I fear there isn’t a simple answer to this. What may count as a helpful resolution for you, may perpetuate a toxic mindset for another person. For instance, fixating on a specific number on the scale might hold you back more than it helps you. Or having too many goals might exhaust you.
To avoid this type of resolution burnout, I like to stick to a few guidelines when coming up with my own resolutions.
1. Stick to one or two big goals.
I always have a tendency to get a little bit carried away whenever I make my resolutions, but I try to narrow my goals down within the first few weeks of the new year so that I can continue to focus on what really matters. I find that the more I have on my plate regarding resolutions, the more overwhelmed I become. So having one or two or even three sizeable resolutions lets me focus far better than if I had seven or eight.
2. Plan it out.
Be detailed without being nitpicky! To refer back to my weight loss resolution; I know that I want to lose a certain amount of weight by June, but I don’t have it narrowed down to the exact ounce or even the exact pound. You want to have a detailed plan, but you don’t want to be super-acute with your goals. If you have a savings resolution, for instance, you may want to determine what you want to save for, as well as the amount. But don’t stress over an exact dollar amount. $500 rather than $514, understand?
3. Reward yourself for hitting milestones.
I cannot stress this one enough. Humans are motived by both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. And if the only reward is the reward of reaching your goal, then you’ll get discouraged along the way. Even if the rewards are small, a bit of encouragement goes a long way to your motivation.
4. Seek out an accountability partner.
Or an accountability group. Either works. Find someone who will call you out on your BS, and keep you on your game.
5. Track your progress.
Seeing your progress in a physical form, such as a journal or a spreadsheet can be incredibly encouraging. It might not seem like it, but when it comes down to it, you’ll have a log of the progress that you’ve made to look at whenever you start to feel discouraged and want to give up.
Above all else, I implore you not to give up on your resolutions. It may be hard, but perseverance is the absolute key to succeeding at your goals. A friend of mine mentioned something akin to “new year, new mindset”, and I think that’s something that we should all take into account when we work on ourselves this year.
It will be difficult, but I have no doubt that in continuing to press on, our journey towards wellness this year will be well worth the work.
So tell me, what are some of your resolutions this year? Did I miss any methods that might be used to effectively keep up with one’s goals? Thank you all for reading!