It’s a new year, how about a few new resolutions? Every year we make them, and mostly, we aren’t successful at keeping them. Here’s why, and here’s how to win at making and keeping resolutions.
If your resolutions are driven by “shoulds” for yourself, other people, or the culture at large, and if your goals are motivated by shame, or are too vague and too overreaching, your chances of success are slim. Focussing on what’s wrong with yourself, instead of what you want more of in your life, limits energy and motivation and isn’t much fun.
Instead, notice what you’d like to achieve and then break the goal down into small, doable steps. Back in the 1980s, businesses used the acronym SMART to make goals more successful. Resolutions can benefit from the same approach.
- Specific: be clear about what you want and frame it as positive action. “I don’t want to be so lazy” is a vague, judgemental, generalized goal. Instead, focus on what brings you joy: “I’d like to be more active on a daily basis, doing things I enjoy”. For example, “I will take a brisk, 15 minute walk five days a week” is a great place to start. Increase the personal challenge as you gain momentum.
- Measurable: The more specific your goal, the easier it is to measure. At the end of the week, did you take those walks?
- Achievable: Is your ambition realistic? Maybe you can begin with a more modest goal so that you don’t give up.
- Relevant: Make sure your resolution is something that is important to you.
- Time-bound: New habits take time to create. Work on small wins to keep yourself on track.