New Year’s Resolutions Again? Set Yourself Up For Success This Time

Written by on December 27, 2021

New Year’s Resolutions Again? Set Yourself Up For Success This Time

New Year’s Resolutions Again? Set Yourself Up For Success This Time

It’s that time again when many of us around the world will make resolutions for next year. Generally, the most common resolutions for the start of a new year focus on several major themes:

·      Health and physical wellness such as: exercising more, getting more sleep, losing weight and making healthier choices when eating.

·      Strategies to improve our mental or spiritual health (e.g., mindfulness, meditation, taking a social media or technology break, volunteering for others, enhancing our faith).

·      Plans to improve our relationships with others (e.g., planning more quality time to spend with family, reconnecting with friends).

·      Learning new skills and pursing our aspirations (e.g., picking up a hobby, learning something new, taking a trip to a new place).

·      Taking care of our financial concerns (investing, saving more money, determining retirement plans, etc.).

We can try to do all of these things at once, although the list seems rather daunting for anyone. In fact, one of the reasons why people fail is because they have too many resolutions.  Other reasons for failures are that we have unrealistic goals, or we don’t keep track of our progress. So, to provide you with a better chance for success, I offer a few suggestions below:

1.    Pick one priority area for the first two months to work on. Maybe instead of setting goals in every area to start right away, you could work on one area for the first two months of the year. Start by identifying your top priority area. For example, is it physical, mental, spiritual or emotional health? Or is it personal development or financial heath? Or could it be some other area entirely?

2.    Once you pick your top priority area, then within that area pick one specific focus point to work on. For example, suppose your top priority area is physical health. There are numerous things you could work on there, such as exercise, diet, sleep, etc. Sleep could be a good focus area to choose since it impacts so many other goals. It may impact any weight or fitness goals you have or even job performance objectives you have. If you pick getting more sleep as your goal, you could begin by changing your sleep schedule to ensure you get seven or eight hours of sleep (or whatever you decide would make sense). Perhaps you set a target of sleeping eight hours (e.g., 11pm to 7am) for at least five days a week for the first two months. The idea is to focus on just that one thing to improve for those two months. If you can keep to this one thing for that time period, you may establish a new habit. Research suggests that it takes about two months to form a new habit. Of course, it won’t be entrenched since that may take up to a year but at least you can see progress. And, if you tell yourself that you are working on that one thing, you may feel a sense of accomplishment two months later.

3.    Make sure the goal you pick is realistic. For instance, is it realistic for you to set a goal of sleeping from 11pm to 7am or is it difficult for you to get into bed and asleep by 11pm?  If the goal is not realistic then you need to change it to ensure it is something you can accomplish.

4.    The goal has to be measurable. In other words, will you be able to write down your progress towards that goal? For the sleep goal above, you can easily write down the hours you slept every night and how many days a week this occurred.

5.    You have to believe you can accomplish your goal. In other words, you need self-efficacy for succeeding with your goal. If you don’t believe you can complete your goal, then you are unlikely to actually succeed. If you keep picking the same goal year after year without much success or any changes in the plans, then your self-efficacy will probably be fairly low for actually accomplishing that goal, and you may need to pick something you feel a stronger sense that you can achieve.

6.    Get support from those close to you. Often, publicly expressing a goal helps us to stay focused on that goal. If those we tell ask us about our progress, this also helps to keep us accountable.

7.    Write down the obstacles you may face for the goal you pick and how you will deal with those obstacles. We all run into challenges, so we have to be prepared for them and develop plans for how to deal with them. Knowing the potential obstacles in advance and how you will deal with them can help you to anticipate issues and ensure you will not suffer a setback.

8.    Find ways to encourage or inspire yourself to stay on track. Most people start out strong with resolutions but then their resolve starts to fall off. You need to be prepared that this might happen and have a plan for how you will address this and how you will encourage yourself to stay focused.

Once two months have passed if you have stayed on your goal, it should be more like a habit, and you can tackle another one of your goals for the year. As a result, over the course of the year, you may be able to take on five to six goals if you work on each one for at least two months. This assumes you keep sticking to the goals you set beyond the two months. Obviously, if you have a setback, then you need to reevaluate to check to see if the goal was realistic, measurable, you addressed obstacles, you encouraged yourself, and you got support.

New Year’s resolutions come around every year, and we all have hope that each year will be different and we will succeed in our resolutions. If you are able to follow these suggestions, you may actually be surprised at how you are able to accomplish some of your goals. Good luck and Happy New Year!

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