It is that time of the year again. The time which fitness centres across the globe look forward to as they are expecting memberships to boom very soon. Millions of people, having stuffed their bellies with delicious, rich food for days, will vow to treat their body as their temple in the new year, promise themselves to lose those extra five pounds and to finally fulfil their dreams of having a six-pack.
We’ve all been there.
It is the time of the year of endless wish lists to ourselves; writing down our resolutions for the upcoming year and genuinely believing that this time, it will be different and we will make it all happen. But let’s be pragmatic for a second… Do you already feel slightly guilty as you are writing down your resolutions because you are doubting your ability to cross them off the list within twelve months? Stop immediately. It is not going to work this way.
My enterprise here is not to either tell you to give up New Year’s resolutions entirely, nor to blindly compile a list of your life goals and optimistically title it “Goals 2018.” To map out your professional, personal, and health-related goals for the upcoming trip around the sun can actually be very rewarding if you tackle the task with a good dose of realism. Here are some tips on how to make New Year’s resolutions that actually work:
- Start out on the big scale
Dreaming doesn’t hurt, does it? Most of us have that one thing they absolutely want to do or see before leaving the world. Realistically, most of these things cost money, take time we may not have yet as students, or simply belong to a different phase of life. But there may be small steps you can take now to move closer to this goal of yours. You dream of running a marathon one day, but you’re not exactly enamoured by the idea to religiously put in hour long training sessions multiple times per week? Promise yourself to go running at least twice per week, and go through with it. Conquer the 10k first, then the half-marathon. I’m trying to not get too sappy here, but I can’t refrain from quoting Lao Tsu: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I know, it’s cheesy. But it’s also true.
- Be gentle on yourself
Let your compilation of resolutions be an encouragement, not yet another list that gives you a bad conscience when you look at it. Don’t let other people’s ideas of what is right for you feature on your “Goals 2018” list. Don’t succumb to the deafening chorus of “but everyone else is already doing it” and “I should probably try to catch up with what others think is best.” Identify what lights your fire and chase it until you catch it. The world won’t be gentle to you; that’s your job. But never use this as an excuse for the lack of ambition.
- Be realistic
365 days. 12 months. A demanding job, or a busy schedule at university. When setting goals, do not ignore the responsibilities that will eat up a good chunk of your time; set goals you will realistically be able to achieve. Nothing is more frustrating that being reminded of the fact that you would love to do something on that list, but simply can’t. Spare yourself these unnecessary disappointments and, instead, focus on things that lie in the realm of the possible.
It can be helpful to categorise your goals; the trinity of health, professional, and personal has proven itself very effective for me. It can be tempting to lose sight of your health when working hard towards one specific goal, and it is easy to forget that fulfilment is not a certificate that only your boss can hand to you at the end of a twelve-hour day at the office. Categorization visually shows you that there are different parts of your life that all deserve to be worked on and prioritized once in a while.
- Don’t forget about the fun
New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be all suits and business. Maybe you have wanted to go to a certain festival for years now? Put it on the list. You have been wanting to get that tattoo, have a chatty breakfast before class or work with your friends more often, or you would like to take more time to cuddle with your neighbour’s dog? Write it down. Nothing is insignificant if it makes you happy.
All in all, New Year’s resolutions will only work for you if you consider them as reminders of what you truly want for yourself, rather than what you feel like you should want or do. Life happens, circumstances change, and priorities shift; leave some wiggle room and don’t be scared to alter your resolutions as the months will begin to rush past you. If your resolutions are a positive commitment to loving yourself and the people close to you, and if you simply vow to give every day your very best, you will be surprised by what you can accomplish within 365 short days.