On New Year’s Resolutions


When picking New Year’s goals, we often choose something we’ve failed at before.


New Years Resolution
Goal setting is a skill that can improve year over year.

That’s just the nature of it. Why would we choose something we’ve already had success with?

But because of this, it can be hard each year to tell ourselves “This time, I will. No, really!” and actually believe it.

I have been thinking about how I will keep my promises to myself. About how I can make this year different, and better, than before.

Written goals

Writing down resolutions commits you to them. There will be pain if you decide to give up, which makes giving up less appealing than if it were just an idea you had briefly after watching the ball drop and toasting to the new year.

Each goal has smaller components, which if expanded in writing start to form a concrete plan. The focus narrows to what you will do, rather than what outcome you hope to achieve.

Example: The goal “lose weight” probably involves sub-goals like “exercise regularly”, which might break down further into “get up earlier (and therefore go to bed earlier)”, “learn how to do a Sun Salutation”, and “go cross-country skiing every chance you get”.


Continually recommit yourself to your goals

Experience has taught me goals are easily forgotten over time, so it is important in keeping them to have some sort of memory jogger.

Part of the way I am recommitting myself to my goals each day is to keep a journal. By taking a self-assessment each day I can see how I’m measuring up, but I also remind myself of what I’m trying to achieve and why.

Another avenue of refreshing your motivation this way is by talking about your goals. You may even choose to enlist an accountability partner — someone with similar aspirations who you can check in with. I’ve found such a person who I am planning to touch base with once a week, hopefully to both of our benefit.

Whatever the method of doing this, having some way to recommit yourself to your goals is going to be critical. Without that, priorities will inevitably rearrange themselves over time.


When you lose focus, analyze where you went wrong and try to change what led up to that

We’re creatures of habit. And changing ourselves, breaking our habits, is inevitably a process of learning.

Therefore, when I fail this year I hope to learn a way not to make the same mistake again. I will diagnose the situation that got me there, and see how I can change that situation so the next time works out in my favor.

My journaling will enter into the plan here as well, as I note stumbling points and try to diagnose what the issue was that led up to it.

Through this process I’ve noticed that, being a bit of a news junkie, I tend to check the news when I don’t feel like focusing. (When I’m writing a blog post and I’m not sure how the next sentence should be worded, for example.) Since this is so automatic for me, I’m trying out blocking some of my go-to sites via a browser extension. My hope is this habit interrupter can help me break out of an old pattern and improve my focus while at work. So far, the results have been good.


A reason this year will be different

Most of us can acknowledge some unique difficulties in the year 2020. It would be nice if these problems went away on their own.

But failing that, we can at least count on ourselves to change for the better if we try. And in doing so, guarantee that this year will be better than the last.

Best of luck to you on your own New Year’s goals!