If you’ve ever started a new year with a shiny new list of resolutions in hand, only to shred that list by February, congratulations and welcome to the club.
New Year’s resolutions are so popular because a fresh start can be a catalyst that powers so much change and makes you see your life with a fresh perspective. And so, the literal biggest change of the year has the power to make you want to achieve all your goals and be the person of your dreams in a year. But therein lies the problem: you don’t become your #goals overnight and the changes you do make are not likely to last if they are based on nothing more than tradition. If you want to make New Year’s resolutions you’ll stick to, there are a few things you should evaluate before and after you make them.
First, when brainstorming your resolutions, be realistic. Put on your pragmatic optimist hat and think of goals that are measurable and will help you improve some aspect of your life. Set smaller goals that will help you reach larger goals and give yourself a realistic time frame. Some things can be done in a year but, most likely, your loftiest dreams will take some time to come to fruition. You have to start somewhere, though, so begin chasing them this year.
Once you’ve written your resolutions down, evaluate the heart behind the them; dig deeper to figure out the why. Your drive to reach your goals should be fueled by a desire for personal betterment, not making yourself look better to others. Being a more empathetic friend or managing your time and resources to be a better boss are great New Year’s resolutions to set for yourself because they refine you so that you can better serve others. If you evaluate a goal and see that it only improves a superficial aspect of your life, it may not be one worth pursuing. And your resolutions shouldn’t be made to punish yourself, but they should involve self-love and self-care. So, for example, don’t start the New Year killing yourself in the gym to attain a body you hope someone else will notice. Instead, make a health goal because you want to love on your body and make it better serve you and others.
Next, evaluate your resolutions in view of the long-term rather than the short-term. Read your resolutions and ask yourself about the potential long-term effects of each of them. Are they informed by an eternal perspective or will they only have finite, insignificant consequences? What is important is up to you to decide, but keep that in mind when writing your resolutions so that you write resolutions that make a lasting impact.
After you have finalized your New Year’s resolutions, keep them to yourself and be prudent with your decision to share them with others. Your goals are very personal so only share with people you trust who will encourage and assist you in reaching your goals.
As you reach each of your resolutions, reward yourself because each of them likely required hours of hard work and significant changes in your life. When you pass that difficult certification exam you had to study for weeks on end for, or when you meet all of your health goals, or when you make significant gains in learning that new language, treat yourself in some way that celebrates what you’ve accomplished.
New Year’s resolutions are a fun tradition that you likely look forward to taking part in each year, but when you make your goals for 2018, make an effort to think deeper about how you can set goals that will impact your life and help you make a bigger impact in others’ lives.