You’ve marked your calendar.
You’ve saged your apartment.
You’ve even deleted a few numbers.
That list of resolutions has been ready and raring to go live.
Seems like the perfect recipe to get your head in the game for the New Year, doesn’t it?
According to Inc., approximately 80% of New Year’s resolutions flop before the middle of February. People are able to keep their eyes on the prize throughout the eternal winter that is January, however, somewhere along the line, they lose resolve.
In the past, I’ve been apart of that 80% (quite faithfully, I might add). I’ll make a list of resolutions with the best of intentions to execute, but as time goes on, I feel myself slipping. Skipping days. Procrastinating. Beating myself up over flopping, just to make another half-hearted attempt at re-resolutioning. Repeat. I’d eventually settle into the mindset of “well, people aren’t serious when they make these resolutions anyway” and continue about my year nonchalantly, making changes as I see fit.
However, I don’t consider myself to be a quitter. There had to be a reason why I wasn’t successful in carrying out what seemed to be very reasonable goals that would only serve to enhance my life. So, I sat myself down in front of the mirror (like I tend to do when I’ve got some serious shit to sort out with me, myself, and I) and asked the question:
How can I carry out a successful New Year’s Resolution?
The answer I came up with: By not making any resolutions for the new year, period.
I’d come to realize that I wasn’t making resolutions because I wanted to, but because that’s what people do at the beginning of a new year. It wasn’t organic. It wasn’t me. Therefore, whenever I would embark on a new resolution, I’d lose motivation over time and feel disconnected from the goal I’d set. It wasn’t realistic for me to engineer a complete system overhaul just because the year was changing.
You can still make New Year’s resolutions, but the key is to reformat how you conceptualize and construct your goals for the new year. We have to ask ourselves three fundamental questions. before we can go any further:
- Where does my inspiration lie?
Let’s be honest: if New Year’s Resolutions weren’t such a social gimmick, how many of us would create them? There’s a social pressure that makes us feel we have to kneel at the starting line of time and wait for the referee’s gun that is NYE fireworks to signal our evolution. That isn’t the case. Time and society cannot be your guide. You change when you want to and how you want to. If you need to create a goal for yourself, don’t wait until next year. External validation cannot get you as far as internal drive.
- What is my goal strategy?
Congratulations, you’ve settled on what you want to change, but how are you going to change it? When it comes to goal setting psychology, people see the beginning and the end, but rarely do they prepare adequately for the in-between journey. If you’re going to set a goal, come up with some preliminary un-timed milestones you can meet on the way to your destination to help you gauge your progress. Find accountability partners, even if all that means is you set mechanisms in place to keep yourself in check when you feel like falling off. Above all, factor in your human nature. A “resolution” is a pretty grandiose concept at times that can be larger than life and it implies that you don’t have room to be lazy or flippant at times. Be honest: you’re going to have days where you don’t feel like doing it and that’s okay. Bargain for that by scheduling breaks and super light deadlines so you don’t trigger yourself by suddenly turning personal improvement into a 9-5 job.
- What is my purpose?
Seems intuitive that, if one is setting resolutions in place, that the driving purpose is clear, but that isn’t always the case. The temptation to change for the sake of changing is ever present and can lead to disillusionment if one fails to complete the plan. This thing called life is a marathon, not a sprint. Take some time (without the New Year’s day deadline) to decide on what your purpose for living is, what your true purpose for creating certain resolutions, is. Ask yourself higher-minded, rhetorical questions that cannot be answered in one day and try to build your goal setting with these overarching themes in mind. Moving with purpose and intention will prevent you from cheating yourself out of the renewal that you ultimately seek.
Failure is inevitable, but defeat is a choice.
The key to change in the new year isn’t to create a new rubric by which to judge yourself by, but to determine the destination for where you want to set sail on the high seas of life. You’ll get there, one decision at a time.