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Tips for New Year Resolutions

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

With the New Year approaching, everyone is crafting their long list of resolutions. However, how many of us can actually follow through? I, for one, have trouble with this. Every year, I type up a list of things I want to accomplish. With a dash of self-awareness, I can poke fun at myself. My resolutions were along the lines of this:

I’m going to wake up at 5 AM every day like a millionaire Silicon Valley fintech start-up CEO.

I’m going to write at least one poem a day. Emily Dickinson who?

Yeah… Nice try Lara. Good luck with that.

(I obviously failed.)

This had me wondering… Why do our New Year’s resolutions fail?

We set ourselves up for failure

The truth is, we’re just not good at setting attainable, realistic goals that we can measure. We set a single, extremely general goal instead of setting a few smaller goals that add up to the bigger goal. For example, a big goal might look like losing weight while the smaller goals building up to it could be going to the gym twice a week, starting intermittent fasting, and cutting out junk food from your diet.

We ask too many things from ourselves

It’s good to create a list, but it’s very easy to go overboard and add too many bullet points that you can’t put a tick to by the end of the day. When we ask a lot from ourselves, we can have difficulty prioritizing. Instead of spreading yourself thin, dabbling insignificantly in a great number of resolutions and hardly making any progress in any of them, try to focus on maybe 1 or 2, maximum 3 resolutions at a time. Only when you have achieved them or made considerable progress, I would recommend branching out.

We wait for New Year to improve ourselves

Why wait till January? Why not get started immediately on forming a positive habit or doing something you’ve been meaning to do? Change can happen at any time — as humans with willpower and self-agency, it’s all in our hands.

We’re almost halfway through! Awareness is the first step of solving any problem. Now that we know why we have trouble with this, how can we set better resolutions?

Make it easy

Try to eliminate everything making it difficult for you to get started on something new. For example, if you want to start a habit of going for a run every morning, then you can make things easier for yourself by preparing your running clothes the night before. If you want to start every day with a glass of water, you can put a cup and a pitcher by your bedside table. Check out this Habit Talks video to learn more about this strategy!

Start with baby steps

If you want to reach a point where you can work out five times a week without burning out when, at the present moment, you avoid the gym like oil in water, it’s reasonable to start with a goal of working out once a week, and slowly increasing that over the approaching weeks and months.

Set deadlines for yourself

When you set a general resolution for the entire year, without specifying a deadline or duration, it’s easy for you to forget about it or not give it enough attention and priority. Consider setting deadlines! For example, a goal with a deadline might look like finishing a new book by the end of January or learning 200 new words in a foreign language before the start of the next month.

Reward yourself for progress

Rewards can be motivating. If your rewards are in line with your resolutions, then even better! Serving as an example of positive reinforcement and going back to the example of working out, if you’ve been making healthy progress, then perhaps you can reward yourself with new exercise equipment or athleticwear!

Feeling compelled to set smart resolutions? Check out my blog post on setting SMART goals and download Insumo to add smart habits to your life!

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Insumo is a personalized productivity improvement assistant that offers integrations with other tools you currently use to optimize task completion processes and habit tracking, helping you become the best version of yourself.

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Lara Nahcivan

Lara Nahcivan

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