NYE is THE night of endless possibilities. As soon as the clock strikes midnight, fireworks go off, champagne glasses clink, hugs and kisses are shared and people’s aspirations for the new year fill the air. The world is mine, we fantasize. Upon us is the seductive and empowering possibility of (perhaps this time) becoming a better version of ourselves.
We are energized by our perceived renewed ability to accomplish all the goals we didn’t get to achieve in the past year – or years, to be more accurate. This mesmerizing vibe is collectively felt in the hearts of those who see the new year as an opportunity for improvement and accomplishment.
Until the bubble bursts.
It is estimated that only 8% of us actually achieve our new year’s resolution even though almost half of us (re)make them each year. With such gloomy statistics one would think these resolutions must be unrealistically devised. Like going to the moon, becoming president or ending world hunger. But are they?
According to a research done by the University of Scranton, individuals’ resolutions are as follow:
|Spend Less, Save More|
|Enjoy Life to the Fullest|
|Staying Fit and Healthy|
|Learn Something Exciting|
|Help Others in Their Dreams|
|Fall in Love|
|Spend More Time with Family|
Can you relate? I can check a few of those myself. And they don’t seem to be grand endeavors requiring massive amounts of effort or expertise.
So why do they often fail?
The initial NYE’s resolutions jumpstart high isn’t enough to keep the engine running through the voyage if we don’t add fuel from time to time. It’s just like romantic relationships; the fiery passion at the beginning seems enough to conquer all the issues that eventually trouble the relationship, but reality begs to differ – it’s not.
Passion is not enough; you also need partnership, care, communication, mutual interests and understanding. NYE resolutions are akin to the initial overpowering passion that once encountered with a few obstacles begins to wilt and eventually dies down.
What’s to blame? Lack. It could be lack of love, financial resources, energy or an unexpected life crisis; but more likely than not, failure can be attributed to a lack of adequate planning.
Break down goals into several actionable steps
We need a system in place that is conducive to the achievement of the goal. A specific breakdown of the different actions needed to put us one step closer to the finish line.
Take the #1 goal of losing weight, for instance. That’s an incredibly broad goal, so instead, ask yourself: how much weight do I want to lose? In what time? What are the specific actions needed for this goal to be achieved? (eat more whole foods, eliminate the daily ice cream dessert after dinner, dust off the bike and ride it 3x per week, etc). Denoting the what, how and by when each of the different actions must be undertaken allows you to track progress.
By specifically outlining the different components that are needed for the goal to be achieved, you’ll be more likely to follow through with it. It will also be easier to go from one small step to the next as opposed to being overwhelmed by a seemingly unachievable grandiose goal.
Another important component is getting support from others. If we feel alone in our efforts, particularly during more challenging times, we may be prone to throwing the towel and reverting into old ways. A supportive pep talk can easily uplift your mood and reignite the motivation to keep in track.
So make sure you seek support from loved ones or even strangers. In this day and age all you need is an electronic device and a willingness to share your struggles with yet-to-be-friends; online communities of like-minded individuals provide lots of support and advice as they are often going through (or have been through) similar situations and are eager to offer you their best written display of compassion.
Set yourself up for success
Positive reinforcement is also needed to keep us on the right path. The dopamine rush flooding our brain when a small goal is achieved makes us feel good and reinforces our perception of being on the right path. In order to set yourself up for success, make sure to devise small goals that can realistically be accomplished within your desired timeframe. Losing 50 lb in 2 months is not one of them.
A stream os successful achievements serves as motivation to continue pursuing the goal despite the eventually required sacrifices here and there. Overall, the process should bring more joy than suffering in order to be seen as valuable and worth of continuous pursuit.
Always get back up when life knocks you down
Which brings me to resilience – or the ability to dust oneself off and keep on going. No matter how hard the obstacles may seem, resilience is that inconspicuous arrow at the fork pointing towards the successful path. A path which is forged with mistakes and valuable lessons that contribute to its beauty and ultimate appeal. It’s part of the journey.
When life knocks you down, you can either let it shape you, tear you apart, or make you stronger. The choice is yours.
Whatever resolutions you decide to impose upon yourself for 2017, be certain they originate from your sincerest desires and not from societal expectations. Goals devoid of intrinsic motivation will leave successful outcomes to chance.
“Chance is a word devoid of sense. Nothing can exist without a cause.” Voltaire.