We’ve all made resolutions, and we’ve all been on both the winning and losing sides of those resolutions. Whether it’s to go to the gym 3 times a week, write in your journal every day, or put 10% of each paycheque towards saving, the purpose of resolutions is to better yourself, or better your life. Stop and think about that for a second. If I want to better myself and my life, why am I setting resolutions that I know I’ll break and will result in me feeling disappointed in myself? It doesn’t make much sense, does it?
In recent years I’ve changed the way I look at resolutions and the way I make them. Since this change I found myself sticking to my resolutions and actually achieving them! Here’s my secret..
4 STEPS TO SUCCESSFUL RESOLUTIONS
STEP 1: Resolutions = Goals
Technically, a resolution is not the same as a goal. A resolution is defined as, “a firm decision”, while a goal is defined as, “a desired result”. To me this means a resolution is something you can break, whereas a goal is something you can bend. You strive for a goal, however you won’t necessarily meet all of them. It is something you can alter, or completely change depending on your circumstances.
Example: A rock climber might set a resolution to climb Mount Everest. What happens if they break they leg? Their resolution is broken as well. Let’s say this same rock climber made climbing Mount Everest a goal instead. After breaking their leg they realize they won’t meet their goal, so they change it to climbing the hill in their backyard instead.
This small substitution of the word goal, instead of resolution, gives you the opportunity to change your goals whenever you please, and eliminates the feeling of disappointment you get when breaking a resolution.
STEP 2: The Power of More
When traditionally setting goals or resolutions you’re “supposed” to be precise. Make your goals measurable, so you’ll know when you’ve achieved them, or how far you have left to go. This can be an excellent way to make goals, especially short-term goals, however for long-term goals or yearly goals, I like to be a little more vague, and use the word more.
Example: Say you went to the gym once a month last year. This year you set a resolution to go twice a week. Say you break this resolution halfway through the year and don’t go at all for a month. You’re filled with disappointment and now it’s even harder to start going again. If you had made a goal to just go to the gym more this year, it would be okay to take a month off, as long as you picked up a work-out at another time.
Using the word more gives you wiggle room to make mistakes (because who doesn’t make mistakes?) and room to push your goal further as well. If your goal was to read more, you could read one extra book or 12 extra books, regardless, you achieved your goal.
STEP 2: Small Accomplishments Are Still Accomplishments
We’re often encouraged to “dream big” and set big goals. However, goals are personal, they’re anything you want to achieve, regardless of “size”. Setting small goals are actually great for your mental health as a smaller goal seem more achievable and much less daunting then a big goal. Small goals can also be stepping stones towards a big goal.
EXAMPLE: Say you want to quit something, like smoking, artificial sugars, or eating out. Saying you’re going to stop all together, cold turkey, is a very big goal and can bring on a lot of extra anxieties. Setting a smaller goal, like only smoking one pack a week instead of two, or only eating out once a month instead of once a week, is a great stepping stone towards your big goal.
Accomplishing small goals will still leave you with a sense of pride and encouragement to accomplish more. It’s not the size of the goal that matters, it’s the feeling you get when you can check them off your list.
STEP 3: Each Day is a New Beginning
We’ve all been there. You’re going to start a new diet on Monday, but when you forget and miss Monday, then you wait until the following week to start again. We do the same thing at the beginning of every year, but why? Why do we put off something we want to do? As I already said, goals can be daunting, and the fear of messing up often causes us anxiety. When setting a goal (big or small) write down how you will feel when you accomplish your goal, this will remind you why it is you must start.
EXAMPLE: You set a goal to make new friends. Asking a co-worker out for drinks after work, or calling up an acquaintance, can be scary. So what will you get out of having new friends? A larger support system, a more enjoyable workday, etc. Remember these feelings when you feel anxious about “making your move”, and it will give you the little boost of confidence you need.
Maybe we can’t find the confidence right away, instead of pushing our goals to a “better” day, like the start of the week, or month, start tomorrow! There’s nothing in the rule book that says we can’t start a new goal, or make a change, in the middle of the week. Each day is a new beginning, and another chance at starting/reaching your goals.
So whether you’re making resolutions or goals this year, remember to be easy on yourself, and don’t get too disappointed if you don’t meet all of your goals. Take one small step whenever you can and sooner or later your goal will be in sight. I wish you luck and confidence in achieving your goals this year.