It’s the latest trend in personal development: to hate on New Year’s Resolutions. Lately it seems all I’m seeing is social media and blog posts blasting New Year’s Resolutions. “Do away with resolutions!” “Why I Hate New Year’s Resolutions!” they cry.
What Did New Year’s Resolutions Ever Do To You?
Well, first, New Year’s Resolutions of years gone by probably made you feel bad. You probably set goals that were too far out of reach and weren’t able to make them happen by the end of the year. And that made you feel bad, right?
Or, you set ambitious goals in January, and by March, you’d forgotten what your goals even were. Sound familiar?
Whether you set goals that were too big or ended up quickly forgotten, you probably beat yourself up thinking you’d done something wrong.
The Dirty Truth About New Year’s Resolutions
Over 88% of New Year’s Resolutions fail. So you’re not alone…not even close. So why do we even make resolutions in the first place?
First, there’s something appealing about looking back over a year, pondering what you’d like to do differently in the future, and starting a fresh new year with a plan to improve on what you didn’t like about this past year.
Second, we all like to believe we’re capable of change, and there’s no better way than by setting an intention to do better.
But The Problem Isn’t With New Year’s Resolutions Themselves.
I like New Year’s Resolutions. But I like them because I know how to do them correctly, and I know how to reach my goals, so at the end of the year, I’m not completely bummed when I look at how well I did.
How to Make New Year’s Resolutions the Right Way (and keep them!)
First, make your New Year’s Resolutions specific and measurable, and look at the why. Instead of, “I want to lose weight,” a better resolution might be, “I want to lose 10 pounds because I want to feel healthier, fit in the clothes in my closet, and look my best.” And you don’t have to focus on positive benefits. Sometimes the thing you’re running away from is as important as the thing you’re running towards. So you can say, “I want to lose 10 pounds because I’m sick of feeling the spare tire around my belly and being embarrassed about how I look.”
Second, instead of going after the full goal right away, break it down. I have my coaching clients create a rating for various aspects of their lives. Then, instead of going after the whole goal, like, “I want to get from a 2 out of 10 to a 9 out of 10,” we focus each month on making incremental progress toward the goals. In January, for example, we might focus on how to get from a 2 to a 3. What does that incremental change look like? In the case of losing weight, instead of focusing on losing all ten pounds, look at how to lose one.
Third, bring in help. If you have a history of setting goals that are too big, or if you have a history of forgetting your goals by March, hire a coach who can help keep you on track with your goals and give you helpful guidance in terms of how to get where you want to go. Many of my clients have brought me in to help them stay on-course and get to the next step, because the skills that got you where you are now aren’t necessarily the same things that will get you to the next level where you want to be. And don’t just hire any coach out there. Find someone who is a good fit for your personality and who has actually achieved success, otherwise you’ll continue spinning your wheels.
Finally, keep it in perspective. Not achieving all of your goals by the end of the year isn’t the worst thing to ever happen. In fact, it’s good if you set goals that are a stretch for you to keep you pushing a little harder. But if you don’t set goals at all, simply because you think you won’t achieve them, then ultimately, you won’t get any closer to what you want in life than you are right now.
We all need to set goals, unless we’re perfectly happy in every aspect of our lives. Life is about the journey…but it’s also about taking the reins of your life and setting your own path. If you don’t, you’ll find the world tossing you about like a rudderless boat, and you’ll have no idea where that will lead.
New Year’s is a great time to set your goals, whether you call them “New Year’s Resolutions” or not. It’s a time for a fresh start and a second chance!