New Year’s Resolutions vs. Goals

I haven’t written on my blog for 2 weeks, which is a little deviation from my commitment to post a text every Friday. But, as life keeps happening, I just literally had no time and no energy to come around my computer and do it. However, I’m back on track this week, and I wanted to tell you that I have really missed you!
Today, in my traditional “let’s-get-real”-manner, I want to talk to you about New Year resolutions, how to keep them (if ever), and real-life goals. It might be too late to start this conversation, you might think, but better later than never. So let me show you the difference between goals and resolutions.
I will tell you that I, personally, never make New Year resolutions, as I don’t believe in them, but rather, I do make a short list of goals I try to achieve. Nevertheless, I do support everybody who does resolutions, as everybody is entitled to their own methods of improving their life – no wrong with that.
So tell me, are you the kind of person who has a big list of resolutions, the one that kind of resembles a bucket list? Or do you stick to a list of only 3-5 things you’d like to accomplish during one year time?
Many studies show that New Year resolutions don’t actually work, and people drop them by mid-February, resulting in a continuous frustration, personal dissatisfaction, a feeling of failure, and even depression. But there’s one missing detail here though. It’s the WHY factor. Let’s see what we can really do about it.
Say you are struggling with a couple of things in your life and you want to improve those aspects. So you pick up the following resolutions, or goals (name them how you wish):
  1. Exercise more this year.
  2. Practice mindfulness/self-awareness.
  3. Spend more time with family and friends.
  4. Read more books on self-improvement.
Nothing wrong with the wishes as they are. All is well until you ask yourself: “How do I go about my resolutions?” After a while, you get overwhelmed by the resolutions, as you don’t know how to start doing them or when, and you simply give up on them; or you are being very inconsistent, skipping a step or two. In the short run, it is not all that terrible. In the long run, you pretty much don’t achieve your goals, which is even worse when put in perspective.
To be able to put a good plan in great action, you need to be more specific and elaborate with your resolutions. And this is where real goals appear.
Your brain can’t pick up the tasks from your resolutions, because they are quite vague. They are specific desires/wishes, but they lack exactitude. That came out as harsh, but this is also how I approached my own goals when I shifted them to action.
So, instead of stating “Exercise more”, it will be more efficient to write down:
  • “Have a 90 min workout time in a week”, or
  • “Exercise twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday, from 6 pm until 7 pm”, or
  • “Do group yoga/cardio/Zumba (whatever is available at your gym of choice, and is happening at a specific hour on a specific day) on Saturday”, etc.
For “Practice mindfulness/self-awareness”, I’d write:
  • “Meditate 5 min before bed, 3 times a week, on Monday (after a long hard day at work), on Thursday (half of the week is gone and you have some built-up emotions you need to deal with), and on Sunday (reconnect with yourself and prepare yourself mentally for a new week)”,
  • “Do stretching for 30 mins, 4 days a week (again, you pick the days you wish for the stretch)”,
  • “Practice yoga on Monday and on Thursday”, etc.
You kind of get the point I’m drawing to. You might think 5 mins for meditation is not a lot, but it is very hard to stay concentrated and empty-minded for this long when you start. After you practice more and feel comfortable meditating for 5 mins, stretch the time to 10 mins, then 15 mins, and so on.
If your goal is to spend more time with family and friends, then dedicate one day a week when you do activities and meet-ups with your family only (depending on how numerous your family is), and another couple of hours of another day for your friends. In case you have friends living far away from you, dedicate a time to e-mail them, or message them, or facetime them, whatever works for you. So go about this goal in the following manner:
  • “Dedicate Saturday afternoon for family reunion/dinner/walk in the park/movie night/etc.” This will become kind of a routine or ritual in your family and you will feel more satisfied with the stability and predictability it brings. Not to say the huge bonus of reconnection and love you’ll feel.

 

If you want to read more books on whatever interests you but never find the time for it, the answer lies in planning. You are the owner of your own schedule, so you normally know when you have some time for yourself, when you feel most motivated, or when you’re not in the mood for anything but watch TV and eat. Approach this goal like:
  • “Reading time on Wednesdays, at 7 pm (or from 7 pm until 8 pm)”, or whatever time works for you.
So, as you picked up already, your goals need to be as specific and detailed as possible. If you have exact days and hours picked for a goal, you are more likely to start and actually accomplish them. If you struggle with consistency or accountability, try setting a timer to signal that it’s time to do something, or that it’s even time to stop doing something else. You can also get a partner-in-crime for some of your activities.
Otherwise said, your goals must be as simple and as achievable as possible.
If you have bigger life goals like completely transforming your life or training for something, than it is advised and best fitted to break these goals into mini-goals, or steps, to be accomplished one by one, just as an artist would create a mosaic, that, in the end, would become a wonderful work-of-art. It will take longer, but it will be the most efficient way to achieve a bigger goal you always dreamed of.
If sometimes you start feeling sluggish or demotivated, over a period of weeks, schedule a number of activities that contain a potential for personal growth or satisfaction. Thus, you’ll be back on track in no time.
To our huge advantage, we now have Pinterest (check out the links below) and other web sites, where we can find different kind of forms and tables for tracking our habits or goals. So go on, find one that suits you best, and start your journey to a better you, and an awesome life. And also, don’t you ever forget to show yourself some love for your every accomplishment! Reward yourself with whatever you feel like doing, eating, buying, seeing, or experiencing. And many of the rewards don’t necessarily involve money being spent, so spoil yourself well!
And remember, we make goals every single day of our lives, so it doesn’t have to be a thing of New Year’s anymore. It’s all about us, and it’s all in us.

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