My last New Year’s resolution was two years ago and I managed to achieve it immediately and hold on to it until today: No New Year’s resolutions anymore.
We are all familiar with New Year’s resolutions and how difficult it is to hold on to them and keep them going for the whole year.
In the US in 2016 about 41% of the people made NYR but only 9.2% of them “felt they were successful in achieving their resolution“
So in order not to be in this 90,08 %, in order not to do what everybody else does, set goals and abandon them along the way, one easy method is not to set any at all. You will be joining the other 42% of Americans who never set NYR.
So no bad feelings about not doing what you promised yourself to do, no bad feelings about not going to the gym, about eating this cupcake, about binge-watching Netflix.
There’s another upside to not making any New Year’s resolutions. If you feel under pressure from all the well-meant advise about setting goals, making them SMART, splitting them to smaller steps etc. etc. the easiest way to relieve this pressure is not to make any New Year’s resolutions, not to set any goals for the next year. Just live a relaxed and easy life.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese Proverb
However what if you do want to set goals, achieve things, learn a new language like I do? Not setting goals is not the best thing to do.
The biggest failure of the NYR is the starting time. There’s never a good starting time. Even more so, starting on the first day of next week, or the first day of the month or the first day of the year, or for what is worth: Monday the 1st of January 2018 is a recipe for failure.
Usually when we feel the need to set a goal, when we have gone through several processes that led us to want to set one, choosing a starting point in the future is sure sign of procrastination.
We take away all the energy that led us to the decision to set a goal, all the pain and the need, and hope that in a couple of days from now we will still feel the same. We rob ourselves of the chance to make it happen because, in a few days we will have forgot why we needed to set a goal. Research shows that our mind remembers the average of an experience. All the above mentioned pain, need, thought, doubt that led to the decision to set a goal, gets “averaged higher“ from the „positive“ and „uplifting“ moment when we made the decision and wrote it down. When we set a date on the calendar. A few days later we look at it and our mind tells us „well that wasn’t that bad“ and „since I could schedule it back then, I can easily reschedule again, its not like the world goes down“
- You want to lose weight? Stop reading this and get out now, work out now. You can easily reschedule reading this.
- You want to eat healthy? Put down that donut now. Not tomorrow. Not on monday, not after new years eve. NOW.
- You want to start going to the gym and it is closed due to the holidays: go to the one that it is not, even if it is further away. You can always switch to one that’s closer to you next month, next year, later, whenever… (you probably know as well as I do, you won’t ever switch).
I personally set, measure, review and change my goals, all year long. I am not setting the start of a goal to be in a few days from now, in two months or whatever. If my life changes and so do my goals, then right in that moment some of them are dropped, some are moved up the priority, some are moved down. If I set a new goal (… i.e. work fewer hours in the week) it is set right in the moment and implemented right in that moment.
Obviously, there are some obstacles to overcome here and there. Where I live I cannot go to the gym in the middle of the night. But honestly, the need to set a workout plan never hit me in the middle of the night (neither did the need of „losing weight“ or „eating healthy”). But if it does, I write it down, right before I go to sleep, and see if it will still be a goal next morning. If yes, I am going to the gym. If not… oh well. It will certainly hit me again at some point.
There is another hint: usually, the things I want to do are in my thoughts for quite a while. For years now I would like to learn Spanish. Just because I like the sound of the language. There is no amount of goodwill that will make room in my life for that right now. And the new year will not change anything about that. If I want to make room in the new year for me to learn Spanish then my goal (which I will set and start working on it right away) is to review and see what I can let go in order to create room for the new goal. If my life changes in 4 months and learning Spanish becomes a need, then something else got to go to make room, right in that moment.
However the thought of learning Spanish one day is still in my head (better said it is on my „one day -list“) Every now and then I will do some research, read about new learning methods, and keep some notes, bookmarks etc. No goal is set yet, no action point. Just some exploration. If at some point there is room for that, I am up and learning right away.