Why I'm Making Goals Instead of Resolutions This New Year
Let me start off by saying that I do believe the original intent of New Years’ resolutions to be good-natured and well-intentioned. But unfortunately, resolutions have been twisted into these unattainable and unachievable standards we set for ourselves. And even if we are setting them because we genuinely want to grow and change, a few problems can come into play if we set them the wrong way.
Here are the three big reasons why I’m setting goals this year instead of resolutions:
1. Resolutions are inherently negative.
Resolutions have become more about what we should stop doing, and changing the parts of ourselves we don’t like, rather than being about looking to the future and assessing our dreams, goals, habits, and passions in a positive light.
Words have some serious power. Negative words like “no” or “stop” can even create a physical reaction in our brains which releases stress hormones through our bodies.
So I’ve decided that instead of creating resolutions that include “no” and “stop” and negatively associated words which create perpetually impossible resolutions that I can never truly accomplish, I’m going to create goals which include positive reinforcement phrases, and which are tangible and achievable. I want to feel good about the goals I’m setting for 2019.
2. When we make these general and vague resolutions, we’re often just setting ourselves up for failure.
Have you ever made a resolution like “be more positive” or “lose weight” or “be more outgoing” or “worry less”… How would you even go about accomplishing those? How would you know whether you’ve been successful or not?
My advice is this: create goals that are check-offable. No, that’s not a real word, but what I mean by it is this: if you can’t complete/accomplish the goal, and check it off your list, it’s not a good goal. Aim to set SMART GOALS. SMART GOALS are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Oriented, or in other words, check-offable. Each of your goals should have each of these aspects included, so that it’s one you can actually accomplish. It’s the worst feeling ever looking back at your resolutions and not feeling like you accomplished any of them, or even worse, feeling like you failed. If the resolutions you are setting aren’t SMART, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
3. Rather than looking to the future, resolutions can often be more about comparisons and societal pressure.
Resolutions that are set with “negative identifiers” (like “stop”, “no”, “less”, etc) are introducing distinct comparisons -and competition- between this next year, and the last. I also think that part of stating these negative resolutions involves holding on to the past; a past in which we view ourselves as “less than” or “not good enough”. I think many people agree, constant comparison is not healthy, whether it be between you and others, or even you with yourself.
We do ourselves a disservice by believing that we need to measure up to unattainable standards which we set for ourselves because we think we have to, not because we actually even want to. Are you only setting these resolutions on New Years? What about the other 365 days a year you could be setting goals to grow and develop? Make sure you’re setting these resolutions because you want to, and do them for yourself, not anyone else.
If you’re setting New Years’ resolutions this year, here are my top tips on how to create the most effective set of resolutions (or in my case goals) for your new year:
Thoughtfully consider what you want your 2019 to look like.
Assess your dreams, goals, and passions, and involve those as much as possible when creating your list!
Try not to use comparative language (“no more”, “less”, “stop”, etc).
Make them achievable and realistic!
Make them as specific as possible!
Throw numbers in! This makes your goals measurable and time-oriented!
Make your goals about you and what you want, not about anyone else.
If your goal/resolution seems overwhelming, break it down into smaller monthly goals!
Write them down!
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