Are you one of those people with the new year new me mindset? No judging, for most of my life, I was one of them too. Naturally, the end of the year is a time when we tend to ruminate, replay our memories, and sum up everything that we experienced, accomplished, and even failed at during the past 365 days.
Unfortunately, most of us focus on what we haven’t done, and so we promise ourselves that next year, we will finally do it – I will finally move out of my parents, I will finally start my own business, I will finally start running regularly.
Having a clear vision of what do we want is essential. Without it, our dreams would remain just empty wishes. But why aren’t we able to reach our visions then? I mean, I’ve seen myself being a famous pop diva recording a song with miss Ariana herself, yet, I’m still struggling to sing in front of anyone else than my cat.
What I was missing, and what you might be missing as well, were clear and properly set up goals. New Year’s resolutions are awesome, as long as you stick up to them. It’s not that much of a surprise that more than 80% of people who set up their resolutions actually fail.
So what is it that makes us ditch the resolutions so quickly, and how should we set up our goals to stick up to them? I put together three tips that I found helpful when setting up the goals.
#1 Nothing changes on January 1st
Does this sound familiar? You spend the last few days of the year planning your future, writing down your goals to the brand-new diary, scrolling and pinning down motivational posts, and picturing yourself finally reaching that long-desired goal. This whole year is going to be different. Right?
Full of expectations, you fall asleep in the very early morning, anticipating your fresh start. Then, you wake up, maybe later than you planned, you make yourself breakfast, and open your diary. Anxiety and panic starts creeping in and you realize you don’t feel any different than you did yesterday or the day before. A few days later, you’re back at your old habits and your old routine.
January 1st is so overrated. We put too much meaning into the “new year equals new beginning,” that it almost seems like if it is a somewhat miraculous day when everything starts over. Whatever happened before doesn’t count. Yes, it’s awesome to know and to plan what you’d like to do in the future, but the new year doesn’t necessarily mean you have to set goals. If you feel under pressure, ditch the resolutions, and set them up whenever you feel ready. Any day, any hour, any minute is an opportunity to change something, to start working towards something we dream about.
#2 Divide your goals into actionable steps
You get yourself a breakfast, you open your diary and take a look at those tasks you had planned just a few days ago. You desperately want to lose those extra few pounds, you want to run the 10k, and you really really want to start your own business.
You start to feel the feeling of anger, disappointment, and anxiety creeping in, and you think to yourself – I’ll start tomorrow. Without a vision, our dreams would never become more than just our imagination. It’s essential to know where you want to be and why you’re heading there. But visions and great goals get scary.
Imagine you don’t know how to drive, and I gave you the most luxurious car ever and told you here you go, now drive it. You would be terrified because you wouldn’t know how to do it. First, you would need to learn how cars work. Then, you would learn, step by step, lesson by lesson, how to drive it. And then, a few weeks or months later, you would be able to drive the luxurious car.
Just like learning to drive a car, we learn how to reach our goals. Set yourself small goals for each month, each week, and, most importantly, for each day. Do you want to learn to play the piano? Then plan to spend 60 minutes of playing twice a week. Do you want to get more active? Then plan your activities for each week and each day.
Then, at the end of each day, each week, and each month, take a look at what you’ve accomplished. Maybe you’ll find out that you tend to skip the gym in the morning because you’re too tired, so you’ll plan them for the evenings. You’ll be able to evaluate your progress and boost your motivation for sticking up to your initial goals.
#3 Moderation is a key
I don’t know about you, but my New Year’s resolution list was usually about two pages long with 20 different goals. I wanted to lose weight, get lean, never binge again, start loving myself, finish my degree, get a new job, start and run a successful blog, move abroad, visit five different countries, and buy a new car, all within one year. I’m not saying it’s impossible (maybe you’re a superhuman like Beyoncé or Kris Jenner). But, for most of us, setting too many goals will only lead to frustration, self-loathe, and eventually to giving up.
This time instead of going crazy and turning your life 180, select one to three things that you want to put your mind, effort, and energy to. Maybe even put it into simple words:
I want to work on how I perceive myself. I want to be kinder to myself.
I want to finish my thesis and graduate.
I want to move in with my partner and spend more time with my family.
What goals (and steps) have you set up for yourself? Let me know in the comments.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional psychologist or counselor; this article is based on my personal experience.