Turning New Year’s resolutions into today’s resolutions
C/O Tim Mossholder, Unsplash
There are many reasons why making date-based resolutions doesn’t work out for most people
By: Ardena Bašić, Contributor
The new year is often seen as a fresh start for many, leading to a variety of resolutions that can range from healthier habits to career and professional goals. However, if we associate any given goal with a specific date or timeframe, it can be highly discouraging if we are unable to meet our original expectations.
Instead, we should adopt a mentality wherein we begin our goals as soon as feasible — instead of waiting for tomorrow, next week or another significant date. This will allow us to be more flexible and proactive in reaching our goals, alongside overcoming a dependence on pure motivation to drive our behaviour.
A common topic of conversation this time of year is our new year goals or resolutions. Yet, there are a myriad of problems with this date-based approach to our goals. Firstly, attaching a specific date to a new behavior can lead to negative consequences if we are not committed for a move into the “new.”
For example, one could resolve to exercise every day in the new year, but immediately feel discouraged when they miss the first day or a single day following. This is one major cause of failure for many resolutions.
Moreover, many individuals are not prepared to realize their goals by the time the new year begins. Considering that lasting change requires acceptance on a mental and physical level, many goals are not reached since Jan. 1 is an arbitrary date that is not individual to the person’s need for prior preparation and contemplation.
Additionally, many people may be motivated by the environment and ambiance that the new year brings. However, this feeling does not linger forever so an individual is left to find alternative sources of motivation.
This can be difficult and lead to further failure in reaching one’s goals if one does not find an innate passion — their own why — to continue their refreshed pursuits.
Lastly, the new year is a general time that does not conform to individual needs. Many behaviors like exercising more, starting meditation or watching less television are common but not necessarily suited to a distinct person.
In lacking specificity and relevance, a goal is not likely to be reached as a person does not evaluate them as highly vital to a lifestyle superior to their current one. It is clear to see that a new year’s resolution may not be in everyone’s best interest.
The best approach to a significant change is simply to start as soon as possible. If you want to start drinking more water, grab a glass as soon as you finish reading this article. If you want to make more time for friends, set a reminder in your phone to message a person at the same time each day.
Rather than putting immense pressure on oneself to achieve something by — or start it on — a particular day, you are simply taking micro steps in the very moment.
However, it should be noted that you shouldn’t be overtly pressuring yourself if you’re not ready for new things. Although some form of a “push” is necessary sometimes, it can be overly harmful in some instances.
Be honest with yourself about what goals are right for you and when is the appropriate time to start. This will also be helpful in giving one time to internalize their motive — their true why — and disregard temporary external motivation that will not be as fruitful in helping achieve one’s goals.
Although the new year seems like a suitable time to try new things, it can be more damaging than positive in some scenarios. It is vital that we are honest with ourselves in how and when we will best achieve our goals and allow them to come from a place of true commitment and desire as opposed to fleeting motivation.
Making changes for us — as opposed to what’s happening around us — is where sustainable and impactful transformation truly begins.