Why are we so obsessed with New Year’s resolutions?
Let’s face it – all of us at some point have sprung out of bed on January 1st, determined to start the year with a fresh new outlook and the determination to make positive changes. We’ve promised ourselves that we are going to quit smoking, stop drinking, ditch sugar, buy kale, eat less, exercise more. And some of us do, but many of us are unable to sustain the momentum over the long term, falling back into old ways and bad habits.
So why are we so obsessed with New Year’s resolutions, if many of them are destined to fail? As the exhaustion of December gives way to January (and hopefully some holiday time!), the new year stretches out in front of us, brimming with promise. It signifies new beginnings, fresh starts and the potential for personal reinvention – what better time to take stock of your life and decide whether you are headed in the right direction?
Success = setting realistic long term goals
They often get a bad rap but New Year’s resolutions can be very productive, particularly if they are realistic and set with a tangible long term goal in mind. There’s no point coming up with a meticulously bullet-pointed list of wildly ambitious goals for yourself, because you are setting yourself up for failure within the first few weeks. A smaller list is much more achievable, and a handful of changes in a few key areas of your life can make a huge impact.
Here are five ways to help ensure that your New Year’s resolutions go the distance:
1. Know what you want – The best way to be clear about your goals is to write them all down and keep them somewhere safe so you can remind yourself of what’s important.
2. Be flexible if necessary – Having goals is great, but sometimes life gets in the way and we need to shift the goalposts a bit. Check in with yourself regularly, and review where you’re at.
3. Ask for help – Most of us are terrible at asking for help, so we need to give ourselves permission to reach out when we require motivation or support. It’s perfectly OK to need it!
4. Assess your progress – It’s important to check in from time to time to see how you’re tracking. This can motivate you, and keep you headed in the right direction.
5. Take a breather – Forget about “go hard or go home”, it’s important to step back and take a break from time to time. Burn out is real, and it can only be avoided by chilling out.
It’s important to remember that New Year’s resolutions are supposed to offer hope, and the prospect of positive change – they aren’t meant to be a stick to beat ourselves up with if we aren’t able to tick off everything on our list. If for whatever reason you don’t quite get there, don’t be too hard on yourself – after all, there’s always next year!