It is that time of the year again, where millions of people set their goals for the New Year, often times even upcycling their previous ones. Why is that the case? What makes new resolutions difficult to stick? And, why do we need them in the first place – given the fact, that statistically speaking, about 80% of new goal setting goes out the window after just 6 weeks.
When setting a resolution for the new year, often times, we feel that we need to fix ourselves in some respect to be better or more worthy. In other words, we believe that we are not good enough as we are. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that New Year’s resolutions are a bad thing to have. I am just pointing out, that there are differences in resolutions, that make us feel shitty, compared to those, that give us more meaning.
Personally, I believe that a calendar change represents a real value. While the challenges of the pandemic keep us all on our feed, a new year is a great motivation to reflect on one’s life and set new goals; but one essential distinction must be made! - Only do it, to increase your meaning and purpose towards yourself. Don’t pay into the advertisements of a billion-dollar industry promoting health and wellness, with the sole purpose to shallowly remind you, that you could be so much more.
If you personally have the goal to lose weight, be more active, get organized, learn a new skill, save money or quit smoking – go for it. Incorporating a healthy behavior into your life is great. However, if these resolutions seem like a tad too generic for you – don’t pay into the social expectation crap.
Studies by Kaitlin Woolley from Cornell University and Ayelet Fishbach from the University of Chicago, as well as by Seppo Iso-Ahola, a professor in the department of kinesiology at the University of Maryland show, that it comes down to two essential facts, whether your New Year’s resolutions are successful or not.
Your resolutions need to be important to you. You need to feel, that you gain actual value from the changes you make - which will result in enjoyment and rewards. If your new goals are meaningless to you, because you feel socially pressured into them, you won’t be able to win the internal battle between doing what you want to do, and what you know you should do. You lack the essential ingredient of intrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is not easy to come by. You can’t just order it online – I wish! For that reason, I invite you to take a calm minute to yourself, and reflect on what is really important to you. It has nothing to do, with what is expected of you, only with what you really want; and what you have to do or change, in order to get it.
When you figured that out, formulate a clear statement with – I will … (lose 5 kg in 6 weeks). Let’s face it, a - ‘should’ - or - ‘would like to’ - doesn’t get our motivation psychologically anywhere. Be direct and content with your goal - I will …!
Last but not least, don’t forget to create an action plan. If you don’t give yourself a fixed time frame and think about what exactly it takes to execute your plan, you won’t be successful. The more you think about, what you have to do, the more involved you get with your goal – hence, the more successful you will be.
Give it a go, and have fun!