Why you should re-evaluate your New Years Resolutions
How’s your New Years’ resolution going?
Are you doing well? Or has it begun to sink in that you might have bitten off more than you can chew?
Are you waking up at 4:30 AM, taking a cold shower, packing home-made meals to work and going to the gym every day?
January 17th, the day when most resolutions fail, is just around the corner, and it may be time to re-evaluate your resolution to make sure yours doesn’t too.
To do that, I just want to ask a few questions.
When did you resolve it?
Specifically, was it before, during, or after a New Year’s party? If so, you might need to re-examine your goal.
Imagine trying to plan your life for the upcoming year surrounded by loud music, lots of people, and lots of alcohol. Where, if you say your goal out loud, there’s 100% going to be a person egging you on to do more (like exercise 5 times a week vs 3).
Or, imagine the morning after, when your head hurts, you’re tired, you want a burrito, and you’re saying never again.
Neither of those states sounds ideal for determining the actions that you’ll do for the next year, right?
So now that you’re hopefully not in either of those states, is your resolution realistic? Or are you doing too much?
Because the rocket fuel known as motivation is going to run out soon, which is why most resolutions will fail 2–3 weeks in.
What is the overall goal?
If you realized that you did make your resolution in a bad mindset, or even if you didn’t, the next step is to figure out what your overall goal is. Because it’s that, not your methods, that are going to help you lead to success.
If you resolve to lose fat, does it matter if you did it on the treadmill? Or a Zumba class? Or running outside? Or through a new diet?
“There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same.”
There are many paths to success, just as there are many paths to the top. If you get fit through working in a warehouse instead of paying for a gym, it doesn’t matter. So what are you trying to accomplish?
Are you thinking too big?
I get it. Big goals seem grand, impress people, and are a massive catalyst for change.
But they’re also fuzzy and are super hard to accomplish.
One of the reasons why is because big goals don’t break things down into small steps.
Imagine if my big goal was to “Pay off all my debt.” Okay, that’s an admirable goal. But what’s the first step in that process?
Is it to read a whole bunch of articles about finances? Is it to talk with a financial advisor? Is it to despair at seeing the big numbers that you owe?
Without breaking down the goal into much smaller steps, you may face decision paralysis at trying to tackle big tasks after big tasks.
What if, instead, you shifted your mindset to smaller tasks and numbers (such as “I will save $100 a week”)? You’d have smaller tasks to accomplish, and it would be clearer to achieve.
Which means it’s much clearer and easier to accomplish them for have small wins.
Not only is it because those smaller wins provide motivation, but also because failing to meet those goals is on a smaller scale.
If you don’t save $100 one week, you didn’t fail your entire year-long New Year’s Resolution. You failed for that week, but you can try again next week.
How to get started re-evaluating your resolution
If you find that you need to re-evaluate things after asking yourself these questions, here are a few ways to start.
A disposable method, a permanent goal: Write down your goal in a safe place (such as a notebook or perhaps electronically). This can be something like “Getting fit” or “Getting my finances in order.”
Then, write your method (i.e. “Going to the gym”) on something disposable, such as a Post-It or index card. Paper just so happens to be good at drafting thoughts, but it’s also easily disposable.
If it just so happens that you hate the gym with a fiery passion, tear up the Post-It or whatever your method is. But then come up with a new way to accomplish your goal.
By doing this, you’re disposing of what the method doesn’t work for you, but not disposing of your long-term goal.
A weekly metric for success: The other thing you should try and do is break down the timescale. Humans have a hard time thinking in large numbers and scale, so by breaking it down into smaller chunks, you not only have small steps to take but smaller timescales for failure.
“Losing 52 pounds in a year” may seem insurmountable if you gain a pound on week 2, but if you change it to “Lose a pound a week”, then failing one week just means you have to try a little harder the next week.
Here’s to a successful 2020. May you achieve all of your goals.
I write about productivity, UX Design, Healthcare regularly. You can check out my course on Design Communication here.