New Year’s is just a few days away, and so we are all starting to think about those New Year’s resolutions that we feel pressured to not only make, but to make some grand thing. The bigger the resolution that is set, generally the quicker that resolution is cast aside and we feel bad that we didn’t keep that resolution. Conversely, there are also those resolutions that are so vague it is impossible to know if it is kept, and so again we feel as though we have failed, or we excuse away the need to try to better ourselves.
So what is it that we are to do in this situation? After all, the entire reason that we make resolutions is so we can change something in our life that we don’t like, and generally that is something big or hard to define. The first thing is think big picture, but move in small steps. Where many might say “I want to go to the gym and work out every day of the week” -which, if you haven’t been the gym in years, is going to be nearly impossible that first week. Instead, set smaller goals. I will join a gym, I will go to the gym once or twice a week in January, I will take the stairs at work instead of the elevator, and I will go to the gym three times a week by March. What you are doing is make it harder to fail, but still allowing for your goals to be reached.
Where vague goals are concerned, something like “I want to be healthier” is hard to really say if you are keeping that or not. A goal, which is what a resolution really is, is something that should be well defined and can be measurable. While “I want to be healthier” is always a good thing, it is hard to know if you reached that goal or what constitutes breaking that goal. Instead, again, you must think big picture, but think small steps. Decide what ‘healthier’ means. Does it mean losing weight? Does it mean exercising? Does it mean cutting out carbs? What does it mean? Once you have defined a measurable goal, again, you want to look at what the small steps are that can be taken to help you reach that goal while also preventing you from feeling overwhelmed.
With these two ideas in mind there is yet another thing to keep in mind: what if the resolution is broken? The New Year is a time for a new beginning; it is a time when it is out with the old and in with the new, but then that is true of every day, not just January 1st. Always remember that with the dawn of each new day comes a new opportunity to achieve all that we desire. If you break your resolution, that does not mean that you should give up until next year. The resolution was made because it was something you wanted to change and one misstep, one mistake, is no reason to say you failed or are unable to keep the resolution so simply forget it all together. When a breaking of the resolution occurs, let’s say you missed going to the gym, you had one cigarette, whatever it may be, and that is no reason to give up. What it should be seen as just that, a mistake, and a time to reexamine and recommit to your goal with any adjustments that may need to be made.
Now some will read the last paragraph of the article and what it will mean to them, either on a conscious or unconscious level, is that they have a way around the resolution. I can smoke now and then at work because it is a slip and that just means I need to look at the resolution again. Well, for those individuals, let me say that is in no way what this is meant to be a self-fulfilling prophecy: if the
resolution is something that you know you will give up on or you feel you are going to try and skirt it with excuses, then don’t make it. Set a resolution that is important, set a resolution that is realistic, set a resolution that is well defined, and then go after it. Also keep in mind that yes, it is tradition to set resolutions at New Years’, but that doesn’t mean that every day of the year isn’t a chance to better yourself. When you start to notice things about yourself that you do not like or want to change, that is the time to take the same steps as with your resolution.