I have a like-dislike relationship with new year resolutions!
I like them because
- they graciously inspire us to start afresh
- they challenge us to reflect on things in our life we don’t like so much
- they offer hope that we can actually do something about those things
- they encourage us to grow
I don’t like them because
- from observation (and experience!), they rarely become reality
- they can be discouraging if we don’t achieve what we hope for
- they can be empty self-promises, which in the end is not helpful for future growth and self esteem
So what am I going to do? Set new year resolutions or not?
I’ve thought about the pros and cons a little and have decided that this year I am going to do it, but in a different way.
How I’m going to do it differently
This year I am going to set smart, realistic goals that are in line with the type of lifestyle I want to live. So first I need to be clear about what that lifestyle actually is. I think pretty simply about these things. My lifestyle goals are about health and vitality, but in my mind, this is not just about health and fitness. My lifestyle goals are about my whole life, which for me is centred around relationships and thankfulness.
After I’m clear about my ideal lifestyle, I’ll write down goals that will help me move closer toward it. In the past my goals were way too general, often too unrealistic and not much fun. So this year I am going to be specific, realistic and find things I enjoy. And to help me set better goals I’m going use the SMART goal setting approach. If you haven’t heard about SMART goal setting it’s really simple. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-framed.
A general goal would be “get fit”. A specific goal would be to “get fit by joining a sports team and training 3 times per week.”
If our goals are not measurable it’s hard to keep track of progress and to know when we’ve achieved our goals. “Save money for a family holiday” is hard to track, but “Save $5,000 for a family holiday to South Australia”, that’s easy to follow and assess.
We want to stretch ourselves, but at the same not set goals that we are unlikely to achieve. Both unachievable and easily-achieved goals are demotivating, so we need to find a balance and set goals that are realistic and push us to grow.
It’s important to know why we want to achieve the goals we set. Do I want to run marathons or just have more energy for the things in life that matter to me?
Lastly, time frames can be motivating and nudge us toward achieving our goals. “Someday” and “this year” are not very helpful. Set milestones and timeframes, and celebrate when you get there.
I hope this information is useful and helps you decide if you’re going to set new year resolutions for 2018.
Oh, I have a few more things to mention before I sign off:
- Be kind to yourself: If you need to reset your goals so they’re more achievable, don’t be down on yourself, be proud that you’re giving it a good go.
- Ask for support: Find someone close by to share your goals with who can encourage you.
- Find a partner: Ask your partner, friend, neighbour … if they want to do it with you.
- Do something each day: Focus on doing something toward your goal each day. The secret to achieving any goal is to change your daily routine, one small step at a time.
And be sure to ask me how I’m going with mine!