Iremember in primary school when my classmate first asked me if I had any New Year’s resolutions. I had no idea what on earth a resolution was and she basked in my ignorance. I felt betrayed by my mother, that for once I didn’t already know what someone else in my class did. We all have these sobering moments, especially those of us with overweight egos.
Of course, I went home and demanded an explanation. I later made some resolutions, which I never kept, including doing all my homework on time. As a child I had difficulty following through with goals and didn’t understand, until I grew older, how important or damaging they could be.
This is the time of year when you set out to accomplish at least five written goals. Planning takes the form of annual organiser notebooks, vision boards, Instagram posts or just a simple undocumented thought. I usually opted for the latter and, along with the masses, by February I would forget all about it. By the end of the year I would feel unaccomplished and annoyed with myself, until I measured all the other things I had done without setting them as year-long goals.
It wasn’t until January last year that I really evaluated New Year’s resolutions, setting aside the cynical perspective I developed after my encounter with my classmate. Eventually I realized the different forms of resolutions. Of course, setting goals has benefits.
It provides a sense of direction for the year ahead, a path to the destination you’d like to arrive at by the year’s end. There’s a point of focus and a feeling of accomplishment at the end of it all. But, there were flaws in my goals and that’s why my resolutions never lasted until December.
For one, I never wrote anything down. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, gave a tip in a recent blog. “It’s time to get your New Year’s resolutions down on paper. The simple act of writing it down will help you stick to it,” he wrote. Similar to the shopping list concept, writing down resolutions will help as a reminder. My remedy for that was to order a Happy Planner from a local provider, Herstoire (easily found on Instagram). The result was life changing! With every visit to the planner I had to set specific goals for the week, month or year and then record how I maintained them. Eventually achieving goals became a process instead of making a statement and being unfocused afterward.
I also set some unrealistic goals. Imagine my depressing disappointment when I did not earn an entire Bachelor’s Degree in one year or didn’t get my driver’s license because I had a problem with my vision. As much as keeping goals is healthy, it is wise to set them according to resources and surroundings and follow processes. Those large resolutions should also be made in doses. Resolutions should include a dedication to developing certain habits that will aid in the realization of your larger goals.
The most deforming blow to goal setting is comparison. I have a friend who made resolutions and every year she’d accomplish 90% of them. Annually I’d be frustrated because I would barely finish mine, but it was only because I didn’t pay as much attention as she did. There were little things that she performed daily towards her goals. She’d take relaxation days and record weekly progress. She fostered a mentality of gratitude and, at the end of the year, she would also take note of why she didn’t accomplish certain things hoping to improve them the next year.
Sometimes, to accomplish those resolutions, all you have to do is ask for help. Let your friends and family know your plan so they can be involved and hold you accountable. And it would also be a great help to remember the popular quote, “Comparison is the thief of all joy.”