The start of a new year always brings a flutter of excitement to everyone around the world. New Year’s resolutions are often celebrated amongst the collection of yearly holiday traditions. Spirits are bright, motivated and hopeful for the new year to come. This “fresh start” in effect encourages recognizing the landmarks that it takes to achieve a goal.
A study by the Western Connecticut Health Network, however, revealed rather unmotivational news. With as many as 50 percent of adults in America making resolutions each year, less than 8percent of people actually succeed in their resolutions.Nevertheless a study from The Journal of clinical Psychology found that those who actually set New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to keep them. This prompts one question: Why does the high of the New Year wear off after you’ve had your share of new year productiveness?
Giving up on New Year’s resolutions typically have more than one cause: breaking old habits, uncertainty, accountability, focusing on specific outcomes and problems with intent. Developing a new habit requires mental effort, working memory and conscious attempts towards eradicating old habits. Many people give up before even being close to reaching their goal because of impatience for their achievement. Without the right purpose or meaningful motivation some resolutions will be harder to maintain than others.
As students we have been fed the tools for effective goal setting since middle school. Most students tend to disregard these tools when required to treat them as a homework assignment, but they actually are just what you need to accomplish to set maintainable goals. Maybe middle school health class did have a point after all… What makes a resolution a purposeful goal?
Put it on paper: Whether it be a vision board or just a list in your journal, writing down your goals can force you to focus and create a clear-cut plan. People are 42 percent more likely to achieve their goals if they write them down.
Make your goal specific: Shifting your mindset to set clear goals instead of resolutions can be much more effective. The term resolution is broad, so your resolution could be too broad as well. Instead of telling yourself in 2021 you are “gonna get in shape,” make and write down that your goal is to “exercise for at least 30 minutes everyday.” Having a goal be specific and planned out plays a part in motivating you toward completion.
Be realistic: Without being realistic you are setting yourself up for failure. By creating smaller, more realistic goals, you can allow yourself to gradually adopt your ideal lifestyle instead of going “cold turkey.”
Create a timeline: Creating benchmarks and deadlines can motivate you. Make a set timeline to help you track your progress; each step is movement forward. Additionally, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make certain benchmarks, progress is rarely linear.
Hold yourself accountable: Have a friend join you or reward yourself each time you hit a milestone. Accountability creates consistency. A “buddy system” can also make your resolution more fun!
Try Again: Just because you might’ve given up or taken a break for a few months doesn’t mean you have to wait for another new year to work towards your goals. You can start anytime, even right now!
A new year doesn’t have to be a transformation into a whole new you, but it allows us to reflect on our past experiences. This reflection can motivate you to make positive, productive changes in your life. 2021 has led us into 365 days of new opportunities, take advantage of it!