With the new year a few days away many of us will be making resolutions in hopes of bettering ourselves. So what are your resolutions going to be? How do you come up with a resolution? Do you base it on last year’s unmet ones? Do you think of long time goals yet to be achieved? Or do you ask yourself seriously and with honest intent what is it you want or need to change in your life?
Change is daunting and most people don’t like it, even good change. Why then do we make resolutions to change every new year? Because we as people strive to grow and are fundamentally driven to seek happiness in one way or another. The problem remains though, that people don’t like change; although they start off with the best of intentions, often they fail to create the new habits they so endeavor to acquire. One way around that is to set realistic goals, and break these goals into small, achievable steps. Recording your progress regularly, gathering support and having others hold you accountable are all things you can do to increase the likelihood you will follow through on your plan.
It is important to remember that all great resolutions can be broken down into smaller goals and those goals in turn can be expressed in terms of smaller steps. For example, say someone’s resolution is to start focusing on themselves and live more authentically. They might define that as spending more time doing the things they enjoy doing, taking time daily to check in with themselves, and leaving work at work. Each one of those goals can be broken down into smaller concrete actions. For the first goal our resolver might have identified that they really would like to spend more time reading books, increase social outings with friends and learning to sculpt with clay. Our resolver might look more closely at why, if these are important to him, he has not been doing them already. Maybe he notices that in the evening when he would normally have time to do these things he gets caught up watching TV, being online, and taking care of his kids. The latter cannot be changed that much, although he might find a way to better distribute the parenting responsibilities, he can’t simply give them up. Watching TV and internet time, however, can be addressed, and so he decides that turning off all screen-based electronics after 9:00 PM would given a couple of hours to himself. Et voila! That is a tangible, realistic and achievable goal. This small step (turning off his screens) will help him address a larger goal (making time to pursue activities he enjoys) and in turn address his broader resolution (focusing on himself and living more authentically). The same approach can be taken with each of his larger goals.
When doing something like this it is really important to prioritize resolutions and goals. Trying to change too many things at once is a sure way to overwhelm oneself and stay stuck. For anyone interested in taking the time to come up with resolutions I would highly recommend choosing one goal to focus on per month – remember you have a whole year or even a lifetime to work towards your resolutions. Focusing on one goal a month allows one to really take the time to examine barriers, identify modifications that might be appropriate, and notice benefits from the changes they are making.
So what are your resolutions? Do you want to be serious about them? Are you up to making a real change lasting change?