Photo by Kleigh Balugo
“New Year, new me!” This popular phrase now garners eye rolls rather than inspiration. New Year’s resolutions have a reputation of being forgotten or failed within a week or two, seldom being followed up on through the rest of the year. Many people seem to think the resolutions are dumb and pointless, because why can’t you set goals or make a change at any other point in the year?
It is pretty silly to expect that you would become a completely new person in the new year. A lot can change in a year, but why do we go into the year expecting to completely change who we are? We should work on bettering our current selves, not aspiring to be something new entirely.
I understand why people criticize New Year’s resolutions. But I see great value in using the new year as the time to reflect on the past year and evaluate what you wish to accomplish in the new year. Even though nothing other than the date changes, the new year really can feel like a fresh start or a new chapter. If people feel hopeful about the New Year and feel inspired enough to make a change, who are we to stop or judge them?
I personally make a set of goals each year to accomplish. I try to touch on all sectors of my life, including academics, relationships, and personal development. I don’t expect to be a completely new person, but I just try my best to be better than I was last year. It helps me to make sure that I don’t stay stagnant from one year to the next, that I am focused on improving myself.
While I don’t accomplish all of my goals each year, having the goals in place pushes me to make some changes in my life. For instance, I may set a goal to read 100 books and only read about 40. Even though I did not reach my goal, pushing myself to read more helps me read more than I would if I did not have that goal in mind.
I am by no means an expert on goal setting and personal development, but I do have some tips on setting resolutions that you’re more likely to keep.
- Be specific
An unspecific goal will get you nowhere. Taking the example above, if I simply said that reading more was my goal for the year, it would be very difficult for me to reach the goal because I wouldn’t even know what reading more would look like. Setting a specific quota (such as 100 books) or a certain time (read 20 minutes a day) would be much more beneficial than a general statement.
If your goal is to eat healthy: Cut out fast food, eat a piece of fruit a day, go meatless one day a week
If your goal is to be more active: Exercise for at least 30 min 3 times a week, go to the gym twice a week, etc.
If your goal is to practice gratitude: Write three things you’re grateful for in your journal daily, text your significant other or best friend what you’re grateful for each day before you go to bed
- Be realistic
If you did not do a single workout in 2020, setting a goal to work out every day in 2021 is nonsense. You probably will give up within the first week as your mind and body are not prepared for it. Setting a more realistic goal such as working out twice a week will be less intimidating and more achievable. Reflect on what you are capable of doing and create goals around the next small step.
Another part of being realistic is assessing how many resolutions you can achieve during the year. Setting thirty different goals will intimidate you into giving up on all of them. Make sure your amount of goals is reasonable, and things you want to accomplish the most this year.
- Place your goals where you can easily see or reference them
It is easy to forget your goals and fall into the same habits if you do not have your goals in view. Setting them as your phone wallpaper, printing out a vision board to put above your desk, or handwriting your goals on a poster next to your bed are all great ways to keep your goals constantly in mind throughout the year.
If you keep a planner or bullet journal, definitely use that to keep your goals in mind. For instance, if your planner has space for weekly to do’s, go ahead and jot down your 2021 goals there for each weekand then when that week comes around, you’ll remember to schedule the time for your resolutions.
- Integrate your goals into your daily or weekly routines
Reflect on how you can include your aspirations for 2021 into the things you already do. For instance, if you want to read more, why not take a book with you to breakfast rather than scrolling through your phone? Instead of watching an episode before you go to bed, do a meditation or write down what you’re grateful for. Suggest a hiking trip or a new vegetarian restaurant when your friends ask what you want to do this weekend.
Doing this helps you to be more likely to accomplish your goals and adapt them into your regular routines, ensuring you’ll be reaping the benefits of these routines for a long time.
Personally, I still struggle to pick up a book instead of my phone while eating breakfast, but I never regret the times when I chose the book over Instagram.
- Don’t be hard on yourself (the most important part!)
If you mess up on week one or week thirty, don’t beat yourself up about it and give up! Failure is part of the process. It’s not the end of the world, or the end of your progress. After all, if your goals were so easy, you would have accomplished them already, right?
We can’t predict what’s going to happen in each year. As 2020 has taught us, life throws the unexpected at us and we have no choice but to adapt and keep going. You may not be able to do as many workouts as you hoped or achieve a perfect 4.0. And that’s okay. The important thing is that you’re trying to improve yourself and that you always continue to do so.
I hope these tips help you accomplish some of your aspirations for 2021. Remember, you can apply these tips to any goals you set, during any time of the year. I commend you for setting out to improve yourself and I wish you luck!