‘My New Year’s resolution, is to stick to my resolutions’, a promise that I have made to myself on multiple occasions.

Resolutions polarise public opinion. Some adore them, some despise them. There is something to be said for setting resolutions: they inspire change, self-improvement and achievement, which can pave the way for a brilliant year. However, as most will know, this is not always the reality. Resolutions are forgotten about, ditched or just outright failed. But why do we continue to set them, when failure is a possibility? Why do we not succeed at seeing them through, and most importantly, how can we complete them?

Resolutions are the manifestation of a desire for change. They look at the previous year’s shortcomings with the intention to rectify them. Resolutions highlight improvements to be made, and due to this, the intention cannot be faulted. Humans innately strive for perfection, and a goal can usually inspire us to pursue this. Although, the reason these do not succeed is down to how we make these goals, not what the goals are. The structure of them increases the burden, focusing on the giant leaps that need to be made instead of the small steps that have to be taken to get there. Overambition and generalisations ruin us, and make the burden noticeably bigger. Through my many years of setting, and ultimately failing, resolutions, I have come to realise why I am not succeeding, and this is what I have learned. This piece is no rulebook, no algorithm for success, and I am definitely no expert, but hopefully I can impart some words of wisdom.

One fault of mine in the past is setting too many resolutions, all of a large magnitude. I have many things in my life that I want to change or be better at, and focusing on all of them has often been my downfall. Sure, having one goal for the year may not seem like enough, but having too many will make the struggle to balance them that much harder. Pick a few that grab your attention the most, and find ways to achieve those. This will fuel motivation, as the list will not seem like an insurmountable mountain that never ends. Not only will the sense of achievement still be satisfied, but the burden will be reduced. It is better to achieve everything on a short list, than a few on a long list, I have found.

My other major mistake in recent years is being too vague. An overarching goal or idea is, of course, great, but the path to achieving this needs to be planned and outlined. Statements like ‘I want to get fitter’, ‘I want to save more money’ and ‘I want to get better at X’ plague our goals lists and offer nothing of any significant value. My question to you, is, how do you want to get fitter? How do you want to save more money? How do you want to get better at X? Think of New Year’s resolutions as a checklist, not a sweeping, general mindset for the year. Be more rigid with it, aim to go to the gym a certain number of times a week, or state the specific amount of money you want to save to be able to buy whatever it is you want, and have a specific plan of action for how you want to get better at something.

For example, I want to read more books in 2019, but instead of saying ‘I want to read more’, I have set myself the challenge of reading 52 books, one a week, on average. It is much more easily trackable because I have quantified the goal. This means I have either succeeded, or not, and that will be blatantly clear and not up for debate. The presence of a number holds one accountable to their goal, boosting motivation and keeping that resolution fresh in their mind. So, in 2019, try it this way. And if it’s not successful, then you can at least say you tried, right?

Remember though, resolutions are not, and never should be, the be all and end all. If all else fails, just naively tell everyone that 2020 will be your year, because you won’t be the only one playing that card two weeks in. And who’s to say resolutions are just for the New Year? As I have stressed, they are about change and improvement, and this can be done at any time of the year, whenever you want.


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