For those of you who read yesterday’s article on why we should abandon New Year’s resolutions and weren’t put off of them by my pessimism, or for those of you who didn’t and are just looking for some last-minute resolution guidance, here is my advice on how to make your resolutions achievable.
The main problem with resolutions is that they are often unrealistic as we expect change too quickly, too easily or are expecting too much of ourselves, unspecific and unappealing in that they are something we have to force ourselves to do. In light of these problems, here are some suggestions on how to overcome these resolution obstacles and make 2017 the year you finally achieve your goals.
1. Decide on what you want to get from your resolution
It’s easy to set a broad goal as your New Year’s resolution, but this is too vague and so finding a place to start seems overwhelming, so instead you need a clear goal and plan of action. To start with, you should think about the specifics of what you want to achieve and how you are going to get there, which could even include breaking down one resolution into sub-resolutions. This could lead to increased motivation and accomplishment, as even if you start to slip in one area, you won’t feel like you are failing if you are sticking to the others.
For example: Whilst saying that you’re going to work harder may seem like a simple and achievable resolution there are so many ways to approach it. Instead you should break it down into smaller, more achievable steps such as attending all your lectures and seminars, doing all your readings, starting your essays early or go out less. With and so finding a place to start seems overwhelming, so instead you need a clear goal and plan of action.
2. Set aside time to achieve your resolution
Another problem with unspecific goals is the issue of when you are going to do them. Scheduling in set times and days for your resolutions is an easy way to overcome this issue.
For example: I’ve found that this has helped me personally with regards to going to the gym, as now I have chosen the best three days to go based on my university timetable. Whilst I still don’t stick to my schedule religiously, I do find it much easier to drag myself to the gym when I wake up on a designated gym day. Additionally, syncing exercise with your hair washing routine is a big help.
3. Get into a routine
Similarly, getting into a routine will make New Year’s resolutions much harder to break. This could be designating certain days to working out, staying late in the library or going out, and, although it will take a while to get used to, once you get into the grove of your new routine it’ll be harder to break.
For example: Getting into a routine could refer to improving your sleeping patters so as to be more productive throughout the day. This is a two-way street that needs both early mornings and early nights to achieve. Here you can try taking preventative measures such as leaving your phone on the other side of the room to prevent procrastinating about getting to sleep and to force you to get out of bed to turn off your alarm in the morning. Worst comes to worst, do as my housemate and buy a massive alarm clock.
If you can’t think of a genuine change you want to make then my advice is don’t bother.
4. Find additional sources of motivation
According to Statistic Brain almost 40% of those who make New Year’s resolutions have failed by the end of January, and so additional motivation could hardly go a miss. One option is to simply share your goals with friends and family for both support and motivation, as I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you wouldn’t want to go around telling everyone that you’ve failed. Another option is to sign up for a charity event to combine your personal goals with the motivation of raising money for a worthwhile cause.
For example: If you’re wanting to reduce your alcohol consumption after the festive season or have woken up from last night’s New Year’s Eve festivities hungover and claiming that you’ll never drink again, a perfect example would be signing up for Cancer Research’s ‘Dryathlon’.
5. Do something that you want to do
A big problem with failed resolutions is that they are too far out of our comfort zones, and thus in the search for the ‘new you’ it’s easy to justify failure by thinking ‘this is just not me’. To overcome this do something that you want to do, as if just the thought of your resolution makes you want to crawl into bed and procrastinate, chances are that soon enough that’s exactly what you’ll end up doing. This also applies to not going with the crowd and choosing a stereotypical resolution for the sake of having one, if you can’t think of a genuine change you want to make then my advice is don’t bother.
For example: If your goal is to improve your fitness then find an activity you actually enjoy, or focus on making healthy meals if cooking is more your thing. If your resolution is to get organised, then go buy some nice folders and planners that you’ll want to use.
6. Avoid previous resolutions
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but there’s a reason that you failed at your last resolution. If you couldn’t do it last year or the year before or the year before the year before, then you probably won’t be able to do it this year. Break out of this cycle and have a fresh start by making a new resolution. Enough said.
7. Only view failure as a minor setback
Haven’t been to the gym all week? Ended up skipping a couple of 9ams? It’s fine. In the words of Rag’n’Bone Man, “we’re only human after all,” and a couple of days off doesn’t mean that you have to give up completely. Just treat any breaks as a small slip, and get back to your to achieving resolution. You have to remember that old habits are hard to break, and so don’t be unrealistic by expecting too much of yourself initially.
8. Don’t restrict yourself to New Years
Finally, remember that you don’t need to wait for the New Year to make a change. January 1st is just another arbitrary date after all. If you have a goal you want to achieve, then just go for it.
For example: As suggested by our Editor-in-Chief, another take on New Year’s resolutions could be to make 12 smaller resolutions per month. This way, not only can you reach new goals throughout the year, but if one is just seeming impossible you can move on to the next.