The 2nd week of January is usually the time of disillusionment for many who would have enthusiastically set unrealistic new year resolutions without much thought process. Several research studies have shown that more than one-third of them abandon their new year resolutions within a week.
Hence, this article is published in the 2nd week of January to motivate those who are on the verge of abandoning their resolutions, to have a re-look at it with the following tips to modify them, and to inspire those who have still not thought of any new resolutions to plan some simple resolutions based on the following tips. Although it is desirable to set long term resolutions and develop lifelong habits, the emphasis here is to take the first step and accomplish something over a span of few months, which can later be sustained as a habit.
Set resolutions for your own happiness:
This is the most important factor to be considered while setting a new year resolution or goal. Don’t set goals to impress others. It should be for your own satisfaction & happiness. Despite being the simplest tip, this is the factor which is most prone to misjudgments. If you are trying to achieve something to impress others, you might actually be dragging yourself everyday for this and there would be very high chances of you getting derailed soon.
Set manageable, effort-oriented goals:
Not all goals are the same. Although putting the right amount of effort is definitely in our hands, the result (and hence the goal) might not always be in our hands. For example, “Getting a promotion at work this year” might not be a manageable goal because it depends on lot of external factors like competition, company profits, project, relative grading with peers etc. It does not mean one must not work hard to get a promotion. The gist here is that results which are not in our hands must not be set as goals or resolutions. Whereas goals related to health, fitness, diet, learning, productivity, social service etc are under our control (manageable & effort oriented) because if you put in the effort, you will get the result. i.e If 10 people in a group work very hard for a promotion, only 1 (or none) might be promoted, whereas if 10 people in a group exercise everyday, all the 10 of them will become fit & healthy. If one reads 5 pages of a book everyday, he would have finished 1 book in 2 months and learnt something in the process.
You should be able to use practical, meaningful targets & measurements to explain your goals in real-life scenario. Suppose you are finding it difficult to wear your older clothes due to weight gain and hence have decided to “lose some weight”, you can narrow it down to a specific practical target like “Getting in shape to wear my 2013 dress”. Suppose you want to lose weight by running, you can narrow it down to a practical goal like “Participate in a marathon event”. Suppose you want to learn guitar, you might want to set your goal as “Should be able to play Hotel California on guitar”. If you want to learn programming, you can set a goal like “Develop an Android app”.
Despite a goal being manageable (no external influence) and practically measurable, it need not be mean it can be realistic under the given conditions. Suppose you set a resolution of saving part of your monthly income, due to the new year enthusiasm, if you plan to save 75% of your income as savings, it would not only be unrealistic, but might affect your current framework to the extent of forcing you to give up this resolution within a month or two. Instead, plan to set practically attainable targets which would not push you to fatigue. Suppose you chose to set a new resolution of participating in a marathon event, you must first consider your current situation. If you are a couch potato today, directly planning for a 42 kilometer marathon would be unrealistic. Instead, something like a 10 kilometer mini-marathon would be feasible. If you are new to programming, developing a 3D game would be unrealistic, and instead a simple game would be feasible.
Just because it is a new year resolution, it need not mean one has to wait till the end of the year for accountability. Setting deadlines (or intermediate deadlines) will increase the sense of commitment and if the need arises, it can be made flexible. For example, if you have chosen to start running for fitness and have decided to “Participate in a mini-marathon event”, set a deadline like “Participate in the 10 kilometer mini-marathon event during September” and an intermediate deadline like “Participate in the 5 kilometer mini-marathon event during April”. Such time bound, practical goals will help you chalk appropriate strategies & focus on achievement. After achieving this goal, it will motivate you to turn it into a sustainable habit for life.
Once the resolution(s) are set, the next major challenge is in sticking to it as a routine. Next time, we shall discuss about tips to stick to such resolutions.