By Marie Choppin
New Year’s resolutions have been around for over 4,000 years starting with the Babylonians, to the Ancient Romans, until now. Resolutions for the New Year used to mean promising to a God to do better this year and think about past mistakes and how to right them in the coming year.
Though they had religious roots, creating New Year’s Resolution is now a secular practice. According to Sarah Pruitt from History.com,” Instead of making promises to the gods, most people make resolutions only to themselves, and focus purely on self-improvement (which may explain why such resolutions seem so hard to follow through on).”
With all that being said…. 2020 is over. Finally. It’s a new year and that can mean a fresh start. New Year’s resolutions can sometimes cause people stress, but they don’t have to! Making New Year’s resolutions is a ritual that many people participate in as a way to feel optimistic about the coming year, mark the passage of time, and think about “turning over a new leaf”.
Resolutions can force us to consider what we value most and how to make positive changes. For many, it’s a way to reassess goals and recommit to making changes for the better. But are these resolutions worth making? Are they a good or bad idea? It really depends on the person, the type of resolutions one makes, and how one goes about achieving that goal.
To be successful in reaching your goals for the New Year, one should keep in mind these five concepts:
1) Develop a goal.
Think about what kinds of goals you are pursuing. Many may seem superficial (lose some weight) or pedestrian (manage debt better). That’s fine. Go ahead and work on these goals. But allow yourself to think big as well. What do you value in life? What provides you with meaning? What kind of world do you want to live in? The New Year’s resolution ritual can be a time of both reflection — “what worked well in my life this past year?” and of values clarification. Having resolutions that are congruent with what we most value — with those experiences that give our lives meaning are more likely to be successful so this is an easy way to start off the year right.
2) Be specific.
Maybe this New Year your goal is to go to the gym more. A lot of us put so much pressure on ourselves to do this by saying words like “Should”, “Have to” or “ I Must”. For example, the phrase ”I should go to the gym to lose weight and feel better about myself.” can create too much pressure and tension and might make you lose your nerve. Instead of using those words, try words like “I want to go to the gym for the benefit of exercise.” That is less stress-inducing wording and is framed in a better state of mind with more positivity and less pressure. Also, by setting a specific goal for yourself it will be a lot easier to stick with it. For example, “I will go to the gym Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after work at 6:30 PM.”
3) Stick to a manageable number of goals.
A lot of us get caught up in all of the things we wish we could have done in the last year or all the things we wish to accomplish in the coming year. Having many goals is great and they can keep you motivated and focused on what you value in your life. But, for your New Year’s Resolutions just stick to one or two manageable goals. That way you can really focus and you’ll find that you will be able to stick to these goals much easier because you won’t become overwhelmed. Richard O’Connor, author of “Happy at Last: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Finding Joy”, says, “it’s probably best to make two or three resolutions that you intend to keep”, that way you can focus your efforts on what you truly value and want.
4) Have a reward for your goal that motivates you.
The book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, provides some wonderful insights into how habits form (positive and negative ones) and how to go about making new habits or changing old ones. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, or becoming more productive, for example, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. The basic message of his book is to understand a “habit loop” and develop this loop to succeed in changing. A habit loop has a motivating reward after having done something which creates a craving that leads to a process of doing something in order to get a reward. Keep in mind, the reward is something that often feels good, such as feeling relaxed, less stressed, or making someone happy. Having this in mind is one of the ways to achieve new year’s resolutions
Without a positive reward, there is no positive consequence of doing the activity or thing and thus no craving develops. The craving is the important motivator that helps a pattern of behavior develop into a habit.
5) Have a goal that is yours alone and not motivated or pressured by someone else.
It is important to know that this decision made at the turn of the year is like goal setting. It must be based on a deep-seated aspiration where you know its achievement will make your life better. Your success at setting New Year’s resolutions should also provide you that sense of completion and self-satisfaction. Thus, it is crucial that the decision comes from within you and not pressured upon you by others.
Remember to be gentle with yourself for your New Year’s resolutions. Really think about what you want to achieve this year and go for it. Pick a manageable number of goals and be specific. The point of the New Year’s Resolution is to reflect on yourself, your values, and how you can improve the quality of your life. You can do that any time of the year but why not try it now and with these tips hopefully you will succeed and feel fulfilled, find balance and happiness.
Keep your New Year’s Resolutions with These 9 Tips by Dana Dratch – quoted Richard O’Connor, author of “Happy at Last: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Finding Joy”