The Scientific Way To Ensure You Follow Through On Your New Year’s Resolutions
How many of us scramble to make New Year’s Resolutions at this time of year? We might not all celebrate Christmas, but we are all in a reflective mood as we welcome 2021.
It’s easy to make a grand list of all the things you want to do in the new year. Eat healthier, spend time with your loved ones, reading a book, work on that project you’ve been meaning to work on… All of which you might lament not doing by the end of next year.
If making a long list of New Year’s Resolutions isn’t going to get us anywhere, then what else can we do?
A lot of us set unattainable goals at the start of the new year because we feel like we have the whole year ahead of us. 365 days feels like a long time.
The problem sets in when we set lofty goals but we don’t have any smaller steps to get there. Instead of setting gigantic goals, split your new year’s resolutions into bite sized pieces. Check in on your goals often — whether it’s monthly or quarterly.
Don’t worry if you stray too far away from your goals: adaptability is key.
It might be more difficult to be accountable to yourself, which brings us to the most important New Year’s Resolution you can make:
Find Someone To Be Accountable To
Find a mentor. A mentor doesn’t need to be someone who’s an old man or woman. A mentor can just be someone who you want to learn from, and also someone who can keep you accountable. (Those mentors could be peer mentors, but really, that’s just another name for it.)
Set weekly check-ins with your mentor to look at your progress.
Split your goals into “professional” and “personal” goals. Professional goals would refer to projects that you’re working on, or anything related to work. Personal goals would be things like losing weight, or sleeping more, or spending more time with the family.
It may seem mundane, but discuss these with your mentor. Life isn’t solely about your professional or personal goals.
Locke’s Goal Setting Theory
First developed by Edwin A. Locke, and later expanded on in collaboration with Dr. Gary Latham, Locke’s Goal Setting Theory is used in the workplace between managers and their team members when setting goals. But no one said we’re stuck with that one way of using the theory.
Let’s see how you can use Locke’s Goal Setting Theory to set this year’s New Year’s Resolutions.
The first principle of the theory is clarity. Be specific about your goals. Instead of setting general goals such as “spend more time with my family”, try setting the goal as “have dinner with the family once a week”.
This way, your goals become quantifiable, and it’s easy to see if you’re actually doing what you said you’re going to do.
Make sure your goal is enough of a challenge. If there’s no challenge in your goals, or if it seems too tedious to complete, you might feel less motivated to complete them.
That being said, if you like a bit more of a challenge, goals can also be something that seem impossible to achieve so you can push yourself creatively. As long as you don’t feel a sense of dread when you think about accomplishing these tasks, you’re on the right track.
These goals that you set have to be something you want to accomplish. Don’t look at someone else’s Instagram feed and curate your life according to a vision of what you think might make you happy.
Having a mentor to keep you in check also helps you stay committed. Since you’re not just keeping yourself accountable, and there’s someone else you have to update on your progress, you’re reminded of the fact that you’re not just tethered to yourself.
Commitment may seem like a vague concept, but it’s easy to figure out. Ask yourself: What are you excited or passionate about? What is it that you really want to do?
Then, all you need to do is stick to it.
I keep talking about getting someone to mentor you. The reason why you should definitely find a mentor is so that there’s always a way to have constant feedback from someone other than yourself.
It helps to keep your goals on track, and you could also use that feedback to see if you can do things differently.
Breaking down tasks to smaller goals will also help to keep your New Year’s Resolutions. Big tasks could seem daunting, especially if you’re someone who, like me, likes to set big goals that never seem to get done.
An example on how to break out a big goal could be to write your own book. It seems like a huge task to undertake, but you could break it down every three months like so:
- Find out what you’re interested in writing about. You can do so by attending workshops, free writing, or just by reading books.
- Flesh out the main gist of the story and characters and create a notebook to refer to.
- Write without stopping to edit yourself.
- Edit your manuscript and figure out how you would like to publish it.
Setting New Year’s Resolutions The Smarter Way
Look back at the previous year and see what you’d like to change or improve on. New Year’s Resolutions don’t have to be something that’s unattainable any longer. It’s time to make this year really shine!