How to make a new year’s resolution you might actually keep
Timing is everything. The start of 2019 is a social temporal landmark (it’s science) that millions of us will use as a fresh start and to set our goals for the year, through the medium of that promise we make to ourselves – the new year’s resolution. But sometimes we can pressure ourselves too much. We decide we’re gonna get richer, thinner, more focussed, more kind, less weird. We decide we’ll take up Buddhism, ditch the cigarettes, be nicer to that rude cashier at the bank. The new year brings an opportunity to change so many things about ourselves that it can get us confused about what might be the best resolution for us.
But choosing a new year’s resolution doesn’t have to be difficult if you take some time out to reflect on how things are for you right now. Being deliberate and thoughtful in how you choose a resolution makes it much easier to keep. After all, your resolution is a promise to yourself, and you wouldn’t want to let yourself down, would you?
- What were some of your obstacles you faced last year?
What was challenging for you in 2018? Think back on your struggles of last year. What can you learn from them? Is there anything you could have handled better? For example, if you found yourself continually getting involved in emotional Facebook dramas, and this made you feel bad and wasted your time, you might want to set yourself some new year’s resolutions about reducing Facebook time, or being mindful about whether that stinging reply you’re about to send is really worth it (it’s not, btw). Last year’s problems can be this year’s learning opportunities.
- What’s the smallest thing you can do to make the biggest change?
If new year’s resolutions overwhelm you, perhaps you’re thinking that big changes need big actions. But that’s not necessarily true. Small actions, taken constantly and consistently, can lead to big results. The small decisions we make everyday create the life we live in five, ten, thirty years’ time. The daily choice between taking the stairs and taking the elevator at work can be the difference between health and sickness when we’re older. So, if one of your goals is to be healthier this year, instead of committing to a gym membership which, let’s face it, you’ll never use (we’ve been there!), why not commit to taking the stairs? Something small – one push-up, one minute’s meditation, one extra smile a day – might be all you need to make that difference.
- Are you facing any major challenges right now?
Perhaps you are starting a new chapter in your life. Maybe you are welcoming a new family member, or moving thousands of miles away for that job/person/adventure. Maybe you’re recovering from illness, or making time to care for someone else. If big things are happening for you, then it’s time to take care of yourself and this might mean not making any new year’s resolutions at all. Don’t put yourself under extra pressure.
New year is a perfect time to get energised about new opportunities, fresh starts and making life better. But remember that new year’s resolutions should add value to your life, not make it more stressful. Choose wisely, small, or maybe not at all.