Although January is behind us, it’s never too late to revaluate some of our new year resolutions and step away from the unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves year after year. It’s okay,
we’ve all been there before.
It’s no surprise we leap into the new year, ready to take on the world with promises to be better, as it is forever, followed by a holiday season filled with indulgence. That over-indulgence tends to make us feel guilty -particularly the excess consumption of food and drink. Leaving many feeling like a detox or cleanse is in order. And what better time than the new year to start cleansing habits, bodies, and minds.
The new year provides a fresh start effect, the idea that we are ‘offered’ a blank slate, a new beginning. And yes, this landmark represents a ‘rebirth’ which is comforting and appealing to most- that there is time to go back to the drawing board and make the necessary changes. The comfort draws from the fact that one can almost psychologically distance themselves from the “old you”- past mistakes and failures are now associated with the person you were and not with the person you aim to be. The appeal, of course, is wrapped around the opportunity to do so. We view our lives in stages, so an occasion like New Year that causes a break in time, a division of our past and future is a ‘chance’ for any human seeking redemption.
However, even with the glittering hope, that ‘chance’ provides, turning a new leaf comes with a new set of pressures. We are impatient with the change we seek, which often leads us to set unrealistic goals and achievements. Often, very little introspection goes into our goal setting- it’s usually vague and basic: this year I want to work harder, I want to get a promotion, I want to eat better, drink less, exercise more.
The first problem our above goals present is that they’re usually associated with appearance, work, or personal pursuits. Our goals rarely center around our mental health or share any connection to spiritual atonement. It is far easier for one to criticize their outer appearance than to look within. People will always notice the change on our exterior and I suppose that motivates the change. It holds more weight when others witness our change than ourselves- absurd right?
Our second issue is ambiguity and the lack of specific, clear goals. Our goals tend to be massive changes that are often daunting, to begin with- because we simply don’t know where to begin. We usually last a few weeks and then it’s a wrap.
The third problem occurs whilst struggling with our goal and eventually when we have given up. It’s the negative self-talk and criticizing we constantly do when we feel like we are not meeting our goals. As soon as we feel like we’re drifting from our goals or breaking promises to ourselves we start to affect our mental health with how hard we beat ourselves up. We are our biggest critics, the failure of not having achieved your goal can lead to self-loathing. We begin to feel worthless. Many end up feeling worse than they did before they set out their goals, merely because they feel like their incapable of the change they desire. Even after dedicating time to set goals, they have still fallen short. We speak the negativity into existence and end up with a cynical view of new year resolutions. Until next year.
So how do we set ourselves up for success when it comes to new year resolutions.
We begin with examining ourselves and observing things we would like to change not only physically, but mentally too. Picture the person you aspire to be v.s who you are now and create a vision of what you seek to change whether that be how you communicate with others, being kinder to yourself, or making time for self-care. Do not merely make your goals work orientated or physical- there is a fulfillment you will only unlock if you include your mental health too. Making it a priority will, in turn, service your other goals.
Making specific goals is key.
If you wish to limit your screen time this year, jot down the activities you aim to replace it with. If you want to make sleep a priority this year, look into a nightly routine that will allow you to rest earlier and easier. If your goal is to lose weight instead of setting a vague goal of exercise more- look into the specific weight range you desire to be, how often you can exercise- realistically and what workouts will help you achieve that goal.
Break your goals down into smaller attainable steps. Go into detail on how, when, and where you’ll achieve them. This makes one more motivated when your goals are not running away from you but rather can be achieved. For example, if you wish to change your drinking habits instead of going cold turkey which is harder to maintain, rather look at cutting down consumption or make a plan to enjoy it in moderation.
Introduce a pathway to reach your goal by adding motivational factors like rewards and incentives. If you meet a deadline or unlock a milestone you are allowed x,y, and z. Be fun and creative with your goals that way it doesn’t feel like a tedious task but rather something you look forward to. It is imperative that you feel connected to your goals that way achieving them becomes more personally rewarding.
Work on reframing your negative talks and cutting down on comparisons. Speak healthy positive- talk and look into affirmations/ mantras that can get inspired when it comes to your goals. Remove the doubt and criticism by being kinder to yourself. Do not place unnecessary pressure if it feels daunting look at reevaluating the goal. It’s not giving up if you’re modifying your goal so that it is more attainable. Draw from inspirations and look at motivational material on positive self-talk. Get your head in a space where it can accommodate your goals and plans.
Do not watch others, stay in your lane and know that your goals are tailored to you specifically, do not be easily moved by what the next person is doing. Like you, their goal is personal and may not match what you need.
Lastly- accept your failures and learn to forgive yourself. You may fall short but do not become your own demise. Instead, look at where you went wrong, what you may need to change about the goal itself, and go from there. Adjust your goals and make peace with the why. We tend to look deeply into our shortcomings and failures, hence why we choose certain new year resolutions- but we must acknowledge our growth and improvement too. You may have not reached it but you still got closer.
The glass is half full not half empty.