“My New Year’s resolution is to try to actually keep my New Year’s resolutions.” Have you ever said that to yourself?
Who invented New Year’s resolutions and who puts pressure on us to have them? :-)
- Babylonians made promises to their gods at the beginning of each year to be able to pay back their debts and return borrowed things during that year;
- Romans began each year by making their promises to Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings (this is how the month of January got its name);
- In the midst of the holiday season, the members of the Jewish community would look back on “bad” behaviours throughout the year asking for forgiveness;
In a nutshell, at the end of the year, we tend to reflect on the things we have done as well as the things that have happened to us, and then we determine the things we would not like to happen to us again, as well as the things we would like to change.
But, why then? While there’s a little bit of media hype supported by social media, as well as motivational speeches about this trend, (“New Year - New Me”), it is also a fact that we need some kind of an external motivator (a deadline) in a form of a new beginning (this is how the idea of Monday as the first working day of the week, and/or New Year, as a “new beginning” was born.) In reality, would anyone finish their studies if there were no deadlines? Time limitations are true motivators.
For example, there is even the list of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, as well as their devastating success on the Internet!
Why is this so?
There are a few segments that have an impact not only on decision-making but also on the process of leaving our comfort zones: (1) unfulfilled wishes/aspirations, (2) emotional state in the moment of decision-making, (3) the system of values we have built.
We often make a decision to make some changes to our emotional state, but when the time comes for us to actually do/achieve that, we put off (procrastinate) or avoid doing that, because our emotional state is no longer the same as the state we were in when we were making the decision to change that.
I’ll share an example from my own personal experience. I like making pancakes (with as many ingredients as possible). Every time when I eat them, I say to myself: “Now, you have really gone to extremes, you always do that, you will be fat, you won’t eat any sweets from tomorrow!” And, then, when tomorrow comes, I order some pancakes again. Why is this so? Because “tomorrow” I am not in the same emotional state as the state I was in when I was eating pancakes and regretted it. This is why I don’t have enough “motivation” to stop eating sweets tomorrow, and I am always putting off the moment when I will stop eating sweets for good.
When our goal, New Year’s resolution or activity plan are in accordance with our values, we can really work on achieving them. As long as this is only a decision based on unfulfilled motives or a current emotional state, you won’t succeed in achieving your resolutions.
Do you know what’s the thing that costs, has a deadline, brings positive results and can change your life? A goal.
Before I present you one exercise, I would like to explain what wishes are, in short - they cost, anyone can have them, they don’t have results, because there is no action, and they don’t have limitations.
Don’t get me wrong - we should have wishes, but we need to transform them into goals if we want to achieve them.
Here’s one simple exercise. Fold the paper into three columns and write down (1) I want it and I have it (things you like and you are grateful for), (2) I don’t want it and have it (the things that put you in a bad mood: traffic, tasks…), and (3) I want it and I don’t have it (the things you still don’t have but would like to achieve). Write. Just write.
Then, stop for a little bit, and make priorities in the 2nd and 3rd columns, and ask yourself: “Instead of the things I have but I don’t want to have, what things, that I still don’t have, would I like to have?” What exactly is the thing you would like to have which is equally important to you?
If you write “too much weight” in the column “I don’t want and I have”, then, instead of it, write “A fit body” in the column “I want, and I don’t have it”. By defining our wishes in a more positive way, our motivation to achieve them will grow.
Do keep in mind that it is more important to ENJOY the process of achieving our goals than just to make them SMART, well-defined and actionable. I suggest you define your goals in this way.
Do you want us to work on achieving your goals together? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, so that we could make the first step together!
And, keep in mind that, if you want to achieve something wonderful and noble in your life, then you need to set up some expectations yourselves.