As the end of the year draws closer, you’re likely to be furiously making New Year’s Resolutions, all those good intentions to be a better person and do better in the coming year. And that, of course, bring us to the question—why is it so terribly difficult for us to stick to our new year goals?
In the pursuit of your 2023 new year's resolutions, the place to start would be to reflect on your past resistance to change. Have you set these goals before, year after year? What has been the obstacle standing between you and success? Once we identify patterns that aren’t working for us, we can come up with different ways to approach the same goal. Another question to ask yourself before setting goals: Are you setting this goal because you want to or because you think you have to? Do these goals align with your personal values? Here are five ways to make resolutions and follow through them.
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Set realistic goals: The most common mistake we all make is setting ourselves very idealistic and unrealistic goals. This sets us up for failure from the start. Setting realistic, attainable goals is the first step towards following through with your resolutions.
Choose specific goals: Sit down and define your goal with clear steps on paper. For example, “I want to be more productive” is a good goal but it is vague. Instead, ask yourself, “what defines being productive?” and set that out. Keep at it until you have 3-5 questions answered on the goal.
Don’t get carried away: While you may be tempted to change yourself entirely, it is important to remember that change is slow. Having limited goals will help you to keep your focus for the entire year, creating sustainable efforts rather than overwhelming you with all the changes in the beginning of the year.
Create a detailed plan: In order to achieve the realistic goal you set for yourself, you need a detailed plan that will help you to work towards your goal. It helps you to plan ahead, think about potential obstacles and strategies. Remember: Slow and steady wins the race. In order to achieve your resolutions, you need to consistently put in small efforts every day to inch closer to your larger goals. You can do this by dividing your goals into smaller achievable goals that will help you slowly and steadily follow through with your resolution.
Find support: A strong support system helps you to stay motivated and holds you accountable, which makes it easier to follow through with your resolutions. Find an accountability partner who wants to work on a similar goal and help each other follow through. If you are not able to find someone who has a similar resolution, you can join support groups with people on a similar journey, and ask for help from friends and family to help you achieve your goals by sharing your process and plan with them.
Finally, remember to be kind to yourself. Keep yourself motivated by telling yourself why you are doing this, and what change you want. Whatever unhealthy habits you are trying to change have taken years to develop; be patient and aware that it will take time to drop them. There will be setbacks at times, but it is important to keep on moving towards your goals, taking small steps every day, celebrating your wins, and rewarding yourself to keep yourself motivated and happy.
Divya Naik is a Mumbai-based therapist.
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