Why I don’t bother with new year’s resolutions

The clock counted down, we all hugged, raised our glasses and wished each other a happy new year. Another year dawns and signals the clamour of self flagellation and semi panic worldwide as people resolve to change something or finally do that thing they planned to do X years ago. I used to be part of this well-meaning bunch who promised themselves and those around them that this new year would be different. It would be better. Of course lots of people manage to keep that resolve for a while before ditching it altogether. Psychologically, the need to be part of a mass decision-making hub is totally understandable. Makes you feel as if you’re fulfilling an unwritten global urge to make a change.

But why wait until the 31st day of the last month of any year or the 1st day of the first month of any year? You must realise by now that you just set yourself up to potentially fail (granted this doesn’t apply to everyone) or put unnecessary pressure on yourself to be defined by 12 arbitrary months. But that’s just how I have come to view the whole tradition of new year’s resolutions.

So what does a coach like me do instead? Well I start the first month of every year with a plan of what I need to do in the coming months; based on what I was trying to achieve the year before. I review how I got on with the previous year’s plans in terms of what goals still serve a purpose for me now, what else I need to do to accomplish that goal and what other goals I need to set to get closer to my ultimate long-term goal. Which then squarely forces me to identify and establish what that long-term goal should be! You see, we make goals all the time feeling at the time as if that thing we want to achieve is important.

That decision is often guided by things going on in our life at that point. If you periodically revisit that arch goal, you may realise that it isn’t serving your own greater good. It (the goal) may have ceased to matter. But because you are committed to seeing it through, you carry on regardless. Fast forward to new year’s eve and you may feel unaccomplished if you didn’t manage to achieve that goal, the very goal that wasn’t really any use to you anyway. For example, you may have wanted to stop drinking, lose weight, stop hanging out with that friend that drains you or change that job you hate. I’m not saying those goals don’t matter. Yet once you really examine why you set those goals in the first place, you might find that it isn’t the most important change you need to make at that point in your life.

Instead, continuously look at the changes you want to make and ask yourself why. What will that change do for you. What will it not do. Does it matter if you don’t make that change. How important is it for you to make that change. How hard are you willing to work to get that thing you want? Answer those questions and you will find your direction. The last two questions will also show you that you don’t need to wait until new year’s eve to make that resolve to change. Change is continous. All year round. It can start in February. August. November. The main thing is to understand the purpose of the goal you’re setting, decide how important it is, make a plan, stick some dates in the plan so you are accountable and have fun realising the dream you wrote for yoursel.

Happy 2017!

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