About half of Canadians make some sort of New Year resolution, often around engaging in a healthy behaviour (working out, eating healthier) or reducing unhealthy behaviours (reducing drinking, reducing processed foods/ sugars), or just in terms of general well-being (reading more books, spending more time with family/ friends, spending less time on social media). Yet about 80% of these resolutions will fade to nothing as early as February – or even late January! Why is it so hard to keep well-intended resolutions, especially when we know that they will be helpful for us?
There are a few factors:
1) Sometimes, we set resolutions out of a sense of obligation/ peer pressure. If we are not personally motivated to have a stake in our resolution, we are unlikely to meet with success
2) A New year resolution is by its very nature, an arbitrary start point. We are setting it because something has changed or has brought to our awareness; we simply set a goal because it’s Jan 1. The date itself is sort of meaningless, and as a result, so is our commitment to our resolution
3) We often set goals that are really hard to achieve, are too broad/ too narrow, or cannot be measured
4) Failure and setbacks happen, but when it comes to resolutions, we can take one setback as an indicator that “This is NOT going to work” and simply stop trying
So, keeping in mind that the core of a resolution is being “resolute,” what can you do to stick with or adapt your resolutions?
1) Don’t be afraid to reframe a resolution – changing a resolution to something more measurable and “SMART” is not a failure, it’s simply a wise course correction.
2) Team up – find an accountability partner who will enable you in a positive way to keep your resolution
3) Check in with yourself – gauge how YOU feel you are doing in relation to your resolution
4) Use SMART approaches to setting and maintaining your goals:
It may even be better to set intentions or theses as opposed to resolutions. If you have already faced challenges with keeping your resolutions, or didn’t make any at all, perhaps re-think a bit: what is a general theme that you would like to work on for this year?
For instance, your themes may be around “physical health,” in which case you would work
toward becoming more aware of your food intake in general and would try to exercise on a more regular basis. You could look at “better relationships” as a theme and then focus in on what you are willing to accept – or not – in relationships, including what you can do to enhance your social/ family/ working relationships in a general sense.
Themes can be an exciting way to make some real changes without getting bogged down in detail. Something to consider!