Ugh! Not Another New Year’s Resolution
Whether you are trying to get healthy, boost productivity at work, or learn a new skill, the new year is likely motivating you to take action. Or perhaps it is reminding you of the all-too-familiar annual cycle of setting — and failing at — your resolutions. Turns out, we’re pretty bad at sticking to our new year goals, with most of us abandoning our efforts to change before we’ve even taken down the holiday decorations. According to research, there is more to successful goal setting than motivation. Here are some insights on how you can make this year’s list more achievable.
Do not make goals arbitrarily. If you do not want your determination to wane, set goals that align with your values and have personal significance — whether it’s January 1 or not.
Many people commit the error of making unrealistic goals. The biggest mistake is setting a goal on something you feel you should be doing instead of something you want to be doing. By simply making a goal, you already feel like you have accomplished something. But it’s easier to do something you want to do that is a high priority, than to make something you don’t want to do a high priority. Part of successful goal setting is determining who you want to be, rather than what you want to do. Start by identifying your values.
Not much can happen without a plan. After establishing the right kind of goals based on your values, develop strategies to help you accomplish them. Without specific strategies, it’s unlikely that change will occur because we are all creatures of habit. However, once you create a game plan, you will be more likely to shift your behaviour. It’s like heading to a football match as a coach and not having a laid-out tactic. Ted Lasso would be proud of you this year.
Know Your Environment
Construct and follow your own regimen, but don’t rely on willpower alone to change your behaviour over the long term. Environment has a lot to do with the success (or failure) of your goals.
Oftentimes, people will have great ideas about how they can change their life, and all of that excitement might help the person achieve their goals at first. However, as time goes on people return to their dayto- day routines, which is usually counterproductive to their resolutions.
If you plan to achieve summer body this year but you hang around heavy junk eaters, it’s only a matter of time before you reconcile your relationship with those M&M’s.
Think Small and Reward Yourself
Sometimes, the overwhelming stigma of a New Year’s Resolution carries with it the pressure of change. Try working toward small wins before tackling larger goals.
Want to be healthier? Instead of making a goal to hit the gym for an hour every day, start by taking walks three times a week. Once you master this, move toward a bigger goal. Your confidence in establishing a new identity will reinforce your behaviour and provide motivation for further change.
People fail to give themselves credit for the great things they’ve already accomplished. After achieving something worthwhile, the initial enthusiasm wanes, and people fail to acknowledge those accomplishments with regularity. When one takes the time to pause, reflect, and celebrate how far they’ve come that arms them with the confidence necessary to persevere.
Let’s say you plan to learn how to code this year, keep a bottle of wine beside you for when you write your first ‘Hello world!’ Make yourself feel good about every little milestone.
Measure Your Progress
Without a figurative (or literal) yardstick to measure your results, your actions will have little meaning.
You can measure goals in many different ways. Some people do best with a simple list, others like to create a calendar with daily tasks to stay on track.
Keeping a conscientious track of your goals also allows you to analyze your values, strategies, and behaviours, and to make adjustments as necessary.
Reviewing goals allows you to determine if your strategy is working or if it needs to change. Goal review should also be accompanied by a values review. You should see if the goals you previously set still fit with how you view your life.
There’s a reason why we all went through a grading system in school. It is to measure our growth. I’m sure we are all straight-A students. (Wink).
Get the Right Tools for the Job
Whether you are a traditional pen-andpaper person or glued to your smartphone, there are a multitude of free and low-cost resources available to track your goals. Try creating a vision board or use a traditional goal-setting worksheet. As you measure your results, whether on-screen or on-paper, keep friends and family involved. Accountability increases your chance of success.
Create a support network of people related to goal setting. It is important to have a community of people that you share your goals with. This allows for motivation but also allows for you to learn from other people. The support network can be online or in person.
Try to set up a WhatsApp group with your friends, even the ones you can’t stand to work towards a goal. What’s the worst that can happen?
One thing is certain: once it’s midnight and the “Happy New Year” congratulatory messages start rolling in, you are left to face your New Year’s goals head-on. Follow in these footsteps and make your 2022 resolutions a reality.
From all of us at DOWNTOWN: Happy New Year!
Self-identifies as a middle child between millennials and the gen Z, began writing as a 14 year-old. Born and raised in Lagos where he would go on to obtain a degree in the University of Lagos, he mainly draws inspiration from societal issues and the ills within. His "live and let live" mantra shapes his thought process as he writes about lifestyle from a place of empathy and emotional intelligence. When he is not writing, he is very invested in football and sociopolitical commentary on social media.