NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS v SETTING GOALS
As we approach New Years Eve, how many times have you been asked, ”What’s your New Year Resolution this year”?
How does that make you feel when you are asked that? It used to make me squirm!
I have wasted many precious hours in that time between Christmas and New Year convincing myself that I could lose 3 stone by March (nearly every year since the age of 21!), exercise before work every day, only eat bread on days that begin with a T, always deal with post (electronic or otherwise) immediately and efficiently … but without any real planning or understanding of what I was trying to achieve - setting myself up for failure and making me feel like a loser or lazy when it didn’t work.
But I am not alone - by one estimate, approximately 80% of resolutions are abandoned by February – so why do we keep doing this to ourselves? Change can be difficult but it can also be managed with a little thought and support.
These days I take a different, kinder, approach and think about what I have achieved in the last 12 months and what I want to do in the next 12 months. It isn’t rocket science, in fact it is really simple reflection but it must, I believe, be written down and as full as possible.
Oh no, not another list!
My life is full of lists and sometimes lists of lists - but this one is different. When I started it this year, 2022 felt like a time of challenge and anxiety around a lot of subjects, mainly things out of my control. But putting down on paper what I have managed to get done this year and also people I have met, places I have been, challenges I have faced, enjoyable conversations, time spent with friends, music/films discovered, made me feel much brighter and better about myself. I find looking back over my diary and photos on my phone helps prompt the thought process.
Try it – I am sure you too will be less anxious and more optimistic by the time you get to the end of your list! Doesn’t that sound healthier than setting yourself up for failure with unrealistic resolutions?
Once you have looked back, you can see where you are now and start to look forward and set yourself one or more meaningful and achievable goals. Of course, you can do this anytime, not just at the beginning of the year and it is always good to go back and review them to check it is still what you want to achieve.
If you don’t like the word goal, use one you do like – maybe target, dream, objective, aim, ambition – whatever means the most to you will work best!
Here are some top tips to get you started:
· It has to be personal to you – it needs to fit with your values and the way you live.
· Write it down – so simple but effective – takes an idea and makes it real.
· Be specific – this will bring clarity – avoid setting vague goals that are hard to measure.
· Make it positive – focus on what you WILL do rather than what you will stop doing.
· Think about how you will feel when you achieve what you want – what will success look/feel/taste/smell like?
· A goal should be challenging enough that you don’t get bored! It is up to you to decide what is achievable, don’t let others persuade you it is not ambitious enough/too much to take on.
· If it feels too big a goal, break it down into more manageable tasks.
· Set a time frame – a start and finish time will help you focus and keep it on track.
I hope you are able to take a few moments to enjoy seeing what you’ve accomplished during the past year and thinking about what you want from the next one.
If you are struggling to set your goal/objective/aim/target, please let me know and I will try to help.