Do you make New Year resolutions in January? Are you thinking about doing something new, stopping a bad habit or be a better person?
I usually write some goals and ideas around January 3rd as I feel relaxed, but full of energy.
Most people fail to stick to their yearly goals because they are either unrealistic or they don’t have the resources or they fall into the category of things they think they should do to please others, but don’t really feel intrinsic motivation to change.
Another reason for failure is to be too impatient and try to change too many things at the same time like quitting smoking and losing weight or changing job and starting a family. That’s why most people quit their good resolutions within the first 90 days of the new year.
So should we stop doing New Year resolutions? I think YES, if we stick to the definition of a resolution: “a firm decision to do or not to do something”. If we think that way it sounds like success or failure are only the results of willpower.
However, willpower is very limited as our brain is looking for rewards and instant gratifications as a result of specific behaviors especially when we are under stress. So if we want to quit smoking for example, it doesn’t help to know that we may increase the risks of getting cancer compared to the instant relief of anxiety that smoking can provide.
Before setting any specific goals for the new year, I suggest you think about moments of your life when you felt truly happy to understand what behaviors and environments make you emotionally and physically satisfied. Then, list actions and activities that you can include in your life that will reproduce those moments. It is also important to identify situations that make you unhappy and that you want to eliminate.
Make a list of five areas of your life you want to change such as self-development, career, family, etc. Select three goals for the year and associate what rewards do you expect based on the list of what makes you truly happy.
If you have difficulties to make this exercise and identify your priorities, maybe you can talk with your partner or a coach to make sure that you plan for success and do not make new year resolutions that you won’t keep.