“New Year, New You”
Time to reflect on the year past and to resolve to become a “better” version of you in the 12 months to come. There is something very appropriate about taking the time out to look back on the year and set intentions for the year to come.
Growth is part of healthy wellbeing but while New Year’s Resolutions offer an opportunity to move forward, the bad news is that only 8% of people report keeping their resolutions for the whole year.
We’ve put together a few things to think about while considering your New Year You to give you a better chance of being in the 8%. First off; what are the common pitfalls of setting your resolutions?
Pitfalls of New Years Resolutions
1. They often require massive and unsustainable change. When many of us set our NYRs we picture a perfect outcome, usually something quite unrelated to the current reality. e.g. I want to get up early and meditate every morning, when the current reality is that you hit snooze 20 minutes before you first lecture is due to start. Perhaps a more realistic NYR would be “I will meditate for 5 minutes a day” and “I will get up 30 minutes earlier in the morning”. By setting something smaller and achievable, we can create a foundation for further growth. Maybe in 3 months time you increase your meditation for 10 minutes a day because you’re already feeling the benefits.
2. They are unspecific. There is a difference between and outcome and a goal. To get to a goal “I will get fitter” we need to set some goals “I will get fit by joining an xxx class on a Tuesday night”. By breaking down your outcome into achievable goals you are more likely to achieve it.
3. They go unmeasured or tracked. Ask yourself what a successful NYR would look like. E.g. I want to eat healthy. How could you measure this? Perhaps you could make your resolution to have 5-a-day. You can easily track this in a journal, your calendar or an app. By finding something in your NYR that you can easily track, you will be able to use your progress as part of your motivation to continue.
4. The motivation for doing them is unclear. Related to the above point of being measurable, we should be clear about our motivation for setting our NYR. If it’s something like “Walk 10,000 steps a day” then that’s a great healthy goal but it doesn’t relate to your motivation. If on the other hand your NYR was “I will walk 10,000 steps a day so that I will build stamina and enjoy being healthier through building movement into my everyday” this is more related to investing in yourself rather than just a number your going to track on an app.
5. They are driven by self-criticism not investment in self. NYRs usually reflect something that your are not happy with. For example look at this statement and the unspoken thoughts in these NYRs “This year I am going to lose weight Because I feel fat and unattractive and people don’t like me looking like this” “This year I am going to lose weight because I want to be healthier and by eating more healthily and exercising I am investing in myself. I deserve to look after myself.”
New Year’s Resolution Alternatives
Celebrate the Current You
Usually when we are setting NYRs, we are recognising that there are some areas of ourselves that we can improve upon. Finding areas of growth is always to be welcomed but before you start setting out where you are going, why not take some time to reflect on who you are and what you have achieved so far.
Our critical voice tends to drown out the good things about ourselves. Before thinking about what to change, use your reflection of the year to identify things about yourself that you like. Write them down with examples. This can help create a foundation on which to build growth.
This can be quite a challenge for many of us. Our inner critical voice is much more vocal than our ability to look at the traits and achievements that we should take ownership of. When doing this exercise there are a few questions that can guide you What character traits can I recognise in myself that I am happy with? (e.g. kind, considerate, hard working, ambitious, respectful, empathetic, funny, quick witted, helpful….” What have I done in the last year that I can be proud of? What have I done in the last year that has positively affected other people?
Recording the Year
Take an empty glass jar and every week write something on it that made you happy, or some behaviour you are proud of and put it in the jar. Next year you will be able to go through them and better remember the behaviours that are building your reality.
30 Day Challenges
Instead of making a 12 month challenge, why not set 12×30 month challenges. The benefits include taking some of the inherent pressure of long-term change away so you can better focus on how doing the challenge feels and it’s benefits. It also allows you more flexibility to try out variations on the challenge that better suit you. A 30 day challenge allows you to start setting a habit which you can build upon.
Growth at the Edge
Self-improvement comes once we step outside our comfort zone, push through any fears, apply new skills and behaviours to create a successful outcome. When it’s broken down like that we can quickly see that choosing something at the edge of where we are currently will allow us to more easily reach an end change. Growth is incremental and very rarely immediate. By choosing areas to improve on that are just beyond our current edge, we have more chance of effecting change which can form the basis for ongoing growth.
Happy New year
But however you choose to regard your NYRs, to embrace them wholeheartedly or to completely ignore them, we wish you a fulfilling and Happy New Year.