Every year people around the world see the new year as a time for a change. A symbol that we can leave the bad behind and gain a fresh start. With that comes the creation of resolutions. A proclamation that this year will be better that we will be better.
The problem is not making these resolutions but keeping them. We start with good intentions, but throughout the year, we lose motivation. By March, many people have already given up as life, stress, and other responsibilities creep in and derail their original goals.
Most advice about resolutions focuses on how to maintain them. The problem with this is that a lot of the time, people end up stepping into the new year with hollow goals that have no purpose. The truth is that meaningful changes need to come from a meaningful reason.
Steps to Choosing Your Change
- Pic Your Change: Obviously, you have to decide what you want your resolution to be.
- Ask yourself Why: Decide why you want to achieve this goal. Why is it important to you, and why it matters to your life.
- Compare that Why to Potential Roadblocks: Here is where it gets hard. You need to make sure the reason why you want that goal will stand up against all of the things life can throw at you.
- Consider Setbacks: Decide if your why is enough to get you back on track if you have a setback.
- Consider Achievability: Finally, decide whether, in the end, with roadblocks and setbacks, if this goal is actually achievable.
- Goal: Weight loss and fitness
- Why: To lose weight and be hot
- Goal: Weight loss and fitness
- Why: So I meet the requirements to donate bone marrow and will be able to go ziplining and horseback riding without the embarrassment of being rejected or weighed.
Between these two examples, what one is more likely to pass the test of roadblocks, setbacks, and achievability?
- After a long week of work or a fight with a friend, will you want your goal more than you want to finish the whole pint of that Ben and Jerry’s ice cream?
- If you did finish the pint, is your why enough to remind you to get back on track, or will a setback lead to a give up?
- Will you ever acutely achieve your goal, or will you still not be satisfied with your appearance or weight?
Of these examples, it is pretty easy to see which “why” has greater purpose and meaning.
It is important to note that not all goals, whys, or setbacks will look the same to each person. It just so happens that this example is my own real-life resolution!
Maintaining Resolution Basics
Once we have a resolution, we can focus on the maintaining part of our new goals.
It is proven that we do better sticking to our goals and making meaningful changes when we have a support system. This includes not only people who will praise us for our progress but also people who will push us when we start to slack. (You Need Both!!!)
We need to be realistic about our goals and take our lives and our abilities into account. Our resolutions don’t have to overhaul our entire lives; sometimes small achievable goals are. As we go, we can assess these goals for what is working and what is not.
Make Changes in Steps
Building on the idea of achievable large changes is often better when we take one step at a time. As we accomplish each step, our motivation is renewed by the success and will propel us into the next phase of the plan. Our small changes will build on each other, and soon we have made it to our biggest goals.
As much as we want to be, we are not perfect. Most of the time, setbacks happen when we are stressed, depressed, or just overwhelmed in general. This is the time when we really need some self-care. And that is okay! Take the self-care, recover, and move on. As long as you get back on track, it is not a failure.
It is okay to be excited when you cross a milestone. Take a moment to enjoy it. The joy a little celebration can bring just might be enough to motivate you to start a new phase in your plan or renew your resolve for your current one.