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The Allure of Making New Year’s Resolutions — Getting it Right.

A yellow curtain being drawn to show the bright sunlight beaming.

As the festivities of the holiday season begin to ease, you’re no doubt relaxing those jeans buttons and starting to think about ways to shed the excess holiday indulgences. Words like health, gym, green and fresh are ever buzzing and the allure to jump on the New Year’s resolution train takes off, but to where exactly and for what purpose?

For years we’ve looked at a New Year as a symbol of hope and a time for renewal. For many, if not most, it can be a second chance to finally get it right. To do something we’re proud of and to make it happen. Whatever the ‘it’ may be, the tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions have long been the push to get us going. Yet, somewhere between ‘I’ll skip today or oops, I forgot, the hype begins to dimmer, and so does the resolve. So what went wrong? Are New Year’s resolutions simply a waste of time? Let’s see.

While New Year’s resolutions have long been a tradition whereby a person resolves to continue good practices or make a big jump, the problem is that while the intention may be good, the focus is often misplaced. This misplacement, in turn, has created a love-hate relationship with the idea of ‘New Year’s Resolutions,’ making them hard to sustain and ultimately fulfil.

For starters, a New Year alone will not magically motivate desires to fruition, but it may be the push needed to get you started. Closing the gaps on this ‘love-hate’ relationship starts by recognising, whatever the ‘desire,’ it must be attached to a clear ‘why’ and built into a clear ‘how’ we live our lives. The lack of this clarity results in many New Year’s resolutions becoming overwhelming, lacklustre, and eventually falling apart.

So if you’re at the crossroads of change and would like to take the momentum of a New Year to kick-start something ambitious, here are a couple of guiding principles to help you on your way.

First: Season, Simmer and Resonate

A New Year alone is not a reason to ‘want’ to live a better life, achieve or succeed. Instead, make your resolution (the things you set for yourself) personal. Ask yourself: ‘why’ is this important to my life? How has NOT having this or doing that kept me from connecting with myself and the world around me in a wholesome way? Make a list of all the things you feel good and guilty about when you give into the opposite of what you’d hope to overcome or achieve. Then, allow yourself a moment to let those thoughts season, simmer and resonate with you before asking yourself anything else. Get honest with yourself enough to become aware of where you are, what you’ve done and why now. The fact is that whatever we hope to do in life must be attached to us personally. We must be able to clearly see the ramifications of our actions or inaction and hold ourselves accountable for it. This reflection is paramount to devise a plan that moulds our resolutions into our way of living.

Second: Break the Resolution into Smaller Actional Goals

Resolutions by nature tend to be broader and more focused on the end desire and less on what exactly it takes to get you closer to what you desire. This means you cannot depend on New Year’s hype alone to get you through it because it is not a process. It is a moment that will fade. Once the moment fades, so does the hype. Breaking the resolution into smaller, reachable goals will allow you to better align and develop a system of living that connects with you mentally and physically.

For instance, this may be the year you’ve made up your mind to publish your first book. While that’s all well and good, have you thought of what it might take for you to finish your book? Here we see the ‘resolution’ itself is quite broad; breaking the idea into smaller goals makes the once-grand resolution achievable.

Tip: Write your goals down to get a clear picture of what you will need to do daily, weekly and monthly to motivate the process. Keep it simple. Resist the urge to overcomplicate the process by overreaching the goal.

Three: Create the Mental and Physical Structure to Motivate A Routine

This is where taking small purposeful steps are better than giant exhausting leaps. Your structure is essential to accommodate the flow of energy to motivate the flow of results. Consider asking yourself: What will have to change inward and around me for what I seek to become a reality? Visualise and think about what a regular day would look like, one where you are on track and motivated. Think about where your attention is typically focused and what’s consuming your energy. What would it look like? Would it mean you’d have a wake-up and wind-down routine? Would it mean routinely blocking a specific time to do a particular activity? Think it out, write it down and activate the micro-steps into a routine to build into the habits required.

Four: Set Clear Boundaries and Accountability

At this point, your New Year’s resolution will resemble micro-processes, actions and behaviours that all work together. However, staying on track can become tedious at times. This is why setting clear boundaries and points of accountability is a vital part of the process.

For example, suppose you find it challenging to hold yourself accountable for following through on your actions. In that case, you must set up a system that sets clear boundaries and empowers others to hold you accountable for your own actions. This could be a coach, a parent, a friend, a teacher, a colleague or even a neighbour. Accountability is key to maintaining the path for achieving our goals. Without it, there is a greater chance to sway from the path, reverse into bad habits or give up altogether.

Five: Be Flexible

Lastly, if the last few years have taught us anything, it is that plans get interrupted. So keep this in mind to allow your goals the flexibility to flow and bend with the shifts and jolts and not fade away because of it. This flexibility is a key ingredient to our entire way of activation. It is how we interact with our environment. It is the heartbeat for making your plans, setting goals, failing and getting back up.

So, as we set off into another New Year, I take this opportunity to wish you in advance the best! I hope you enjoyed the tips and welcome your comments on what’s worked for you or have not worked so well on New Year’s Resolutions. Take care, everyone.

— Bio, Nerissa J. Persaud

From Global Hospitality Recruiter to leading a conversation on rising above burnout. Nerissa J. Persaud is a Guyanese-Canadian Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Ignite The Human Spark. She is the Podcast Host of Mindset Bootcamp, Editor-In-Chief of M.O.C.A and Author of the upcoming book ‘Rise Above Burnout.’ Her work entails strategic workforce planning and helping people globally live and work better through her signature coaching program High Powered Mindset™

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Nerissa J. Persaud

Founder @Ignite The Human Spark | Author | Speaker I Workforce Strategist