Let’s face it, new year’s resolutions are stressful. The start of a new year provides a symbolic line in the sand where we can stand and survey exactly where we were last year, and exactly where we wanted to be by now (no pressure). Amidst the creeping existential terror this creates is the unpleasant reality that achieving one’s new year’s goals probably involves giving something up, or taking on some form of arduous regimen -- all at the same time as returning to work or school, and battling the inevitable January blues.
Is it really surprising that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions? Probably not. But if you want to be among that elite few by 2018, here are 5 tips to help you on your way:
1. Set Clear Goals
It’s easy to feel demotivated when we feel like we’re not getting anywhere. This is exactly what happens when we set vague goals like ‘get fit’ or ‘be happier’ or ‘start a business’. It’s hard to measure progress with these types of broad aspirations, and they also provide no clear path for us to follow. If it’s your intention to ‘spend more time with family’, you’re best off establishing exactly what that means for you, and taking concrete steps towards this end -- for example, having a proper sit-down meal with family once a week.
2. Be Realistic
As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will be that ideal body or novel you’ve been dying to write. Our hardwired fear of failure is notorious for preventing us from doing anything at all if we don’t think success will be quick and easy. It’s therefore useful to break down larger goals like writing a book or getting fit into smaller achievable tasks, like going to the gym or writing a chapter once a week. Don’t fall into black-and-white all-or-nothing thinking -- if you don’t work out this week, catch up next week. If you’re not the picture of perfect health by the end of January, relax, you’ve got 11 more months to go.
3. Employ Productivity Lifehacks
Even if your New Year’s Resolution isn’t directly ‘work’ related, being more productive overall can only free up time and energy to spend on things you really care about.
For example, adopt the ‘2 Minute Rule’: when you have a task to do that takes 2 minutes or less (like writing an email) - Do. It. Now. Don’t add it to an ever-growing list or risk forgetting about it all together.
Or try using the Pomodoro Technique, a time management strategy that breaks down work into 25 minute intervals. You select a task, work on it for 25 minutes, and then take a 5 minute break. Lather, rinse, repeat.
4. Sleep Right
Never underestimate the power of a good sleep schedule. Getting the right amount of sleep is vital to your well-being and productivity, increasing your concentration, creativity, decision-making skills and overall health. On the flip-side, if you’re sleep deprived, you’re more likely to be stressed, angry and impulsive, and engage in unhealthy habits like drinking and smoking. No matter what you’re trying to achieve in 2017, sleep right and you’ll be well on your way.
5. Question Your Goals
Give yourself permission to question your resolutions, and to abandon those that aren’t serving you. We may feel a lot of pressure to do certain things, or to do them in a certain way, when in reality that doesn’t work for us. If part of your new year’s resolution routine fills you with a sinking feeling, allow yourself to put it aside, or set your own approach. If meditation isn’t working for you in your pursuit of relaxation, try something else. If you don’t like going to the gym, try long walks in nature instead. At the end of the day, new year’s resolutions are all about improving yourself and your state of being, so do things your way -- and don’t feel bad about taking the time to find out what that is.
Written by Grace Waters