New Year’s resolutions are like double-edged swords. They prey on procrastinators’ nightmares, cause imposter syndrome in perfectionists, and wreak havoc on those who are complacent about their own inadequacies. However, they also offer us a chance of redemption, an opportunity to become better, stronger, and healthier.
After two years of the coronavirus pandemic, it seems that the Western tradition of New Year’s Resolutions has finally met its match. A study conducted in America found that only 29 percent of people will be making a resolution this year, compared to 43 percent in the previous year.
For many, the sense of burnout amidst the pandemic has cast away the notion of creating optimistic plans for the new year. Days, weeks, and months have bled into one large void of time. Its effect, comparable to a grand trance, has completely blinded our perception of a moving world.
But to what extent are we complicit in treating COVID-19 restrictions as a scapegoat for our personal failings? It seems like we have developed a tendency to excuse our individual downfalls because of external circumstances. Though the world may be at a standstill, is it truly a reason for us to stop improving our lives? In other words, is there a deeper problem with why New Year’s resolutions fail so often?
While the pandemic acts as paper over the cracks, it seems that the lack of planning that goes into New Year’s resolutions is a far greater problem. As a result, we need to take a deeper dive into why New Year’s resolutions fail, and how they can be fixed.
Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail
When people make their New Year’s Resolutions, they are often too vague, extreme, and dull. They create unrealistic targets, ridiculous timeframes to achieve them in, and tedious processes that will make anybody go insane.
For example, one of the most common goals of New Year’s Resolutions is to lose weight. It’s an admirable goal, one that draws wonderous benefits. But failure to plan ahead can lead to devastating effects, namely body dysmorphia, yo-yo dieting, and crumbling self-esteem.
Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid making this mistake. With adequate preparation, a realistic goal, and a pragmatic routine, New Year’s resolutions can become a concrete plan of action. Below are my top six tips to keep you consistent, realistic, and efficient with your own personal targets for the year.
- Write Down Your Goals
To start, writing down your plans will help create a personal sense of accountability. It clarifies your goals, helps you remember them, and visualize your progress. People who write down their goals are 42 percent more likely to achieve them, according to a study conducted by the Dominican University of California.
- Share Your Goals with Others
Sharing goals with people you admire also offers further accountability. Not wanting to disappoint your respected peers gives you a deeper level of meaning and motivation. Your New Year’s Resolution is no longer just a personal endeavour, but it’s also a way to enhance your relationships with others.
- Be Realistic
Being realistic with your goals is a major factor in determining the success of your New Year’s resolution. In order to achieve your goals, it is important to set detailed targets with a practical weekly plan. Get a second opinion from someone who is knowledgeable in the area and see what they think. Two heads are always better than one.
- Create a Routine
Routine is of utmost importance when planning your New Year’s resolution. A newfound routine needs to be as consistent as brushing your teeth. You don’t think about it. You don’t get motivated to do it. You just do it because you know the benefits of it and the consequences of avoiding it.
This means dedicating time out of your day to fulfil these long-term goals of yours. If you plan on going to the gym regularly, make sure that you allocate enough time to go and get a good workout in. Want to learn a new instrument? Then segment an hour out of your day to get better at playing it. Discipline beats motivation every time.
- Pace out your goals
Give yourself time to adjust to your new schedule. Radical changes can be a big turn-off when done quickly. Start with small tasks that you can build upon throughout the year. Want to read more? Then begin with spending 15 minutes a day going through a book you really like. After some time, increase your reading time gradually. Building up confidence is key, so don’t be afraid of spicing things up to keep yourself interested. Small steps can make the world of difference.
- Avoid Temptations
Temptations are the Achilles’ heel of any New Year’s resolution. If you are not prudent, one slip-up can create a snowball effect. It happens to all of us, but the difference between the winners and losers of New Year’s resolutions is the ability to get back on track.
One way to limit your downfalls is to put systems in place that reinforce your goals. If you know what will dissuade you from your goals, then reduce your exposure to such deterrents. If you want to stay on a balanced diet, then reduce the amount of junk food you bring home. It’s easier to avoid temptation than resist it.
The Time Is Now to Make Change
New Year’s resolutions are still alive and well, albeit with far fewer participants amidst the pandemic. Yet, it has proven to be the most successful time of the year to create new goals. When planned right—detailing weekly goals, putting systems in place, and making people hold you accountable—New Year’s resolutions can optimally improve your life.
The pandemic may have made it tough to create New Year’s resolutions, but it does not absolve us from failing to become better people. Each morning rise is a chance to have a healthier body, a stronger mind, and a kinder soul. While this ink on paper may prove useful, it is up to you to make the change necessary. Write down your plan, be realistic, and commit to it. All that’s left is execution — so get to it and enjoy the process.