Every year it seems like all anyone can talk about for the first few weeks of January are their New Year’s resolutions. Everyone is determined to make some massive changes to become a better version of themselves for the new year. You can’t escape people asking what your resolutions for the year are no matter where you go.
People are quick to tout their New Year’s resolutions around the water cooler at work or get-togethers with friends. Some plan to get into the gym and put on pounds of muscle. Some plan to launch the business they’ve talked about for years. Some are determined to finally quit drinking, using drugs, or smoking.
Whatever the resolutions are, they tend to be drastic, sweeping changes that must be made immediately. Expecting yourself to make a massive lifestyle change just because the first of January rolled around is only setting yourself up for failure. Creating change that lasts takes time, though, and is probably why 80% of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by the second week of February.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to become a better person but there are better ways to approach it. Maybe it’s time to toss out New Year’s resolutions and their black-and-white path to change. How can you reframe your resolutions to ensure they’re something that you stick with this year?
Most people look at New Year’s resolutions as an all-or-nothing change. They tend to make people too stringent with their plans for change. They’re either in the gym 5 times during the first week of January or they failed. They’re drinking green juice for every meal or they give up.
Instead, shift your resolutions to goals. Goals offer a more effective alternative to making changes. They encourage you to make adjustments over a longer period rather than forcing yourself to make ones that are sudden and extreme.
Making changes in the New Year isn’t a way to punish yourself for last year’s shortcomings. You shouldn’t make goals with this mindset. Using goals for punishment will only breed resentment against the process it takes to get there.
Change your perspective when setting goals. Rather than seeing them as punishment for failure, look at them as an opportunity to grow into a better version of yourself. They give you a chance to improve on things you’re already working to improve.
Resolutions imply an all-or-nothing mindset. You either are successful in your first few weeks of making the change or you aren’t. This black-and-white thinking turns the opportunity for growth into a stressful experience. Of course, you’re likely to fail when you leave no room to move.
Reject this limiting mindset when setting goals for the year. There’s no reason to set such drastic expectations on yourself. Most resolutions aren’t a life-or-death change, anyways. You’re much more likely to stick with your changes when you don’t view them through this strict lens. You might even enjoy the process along the way.
No matter what your mind may tell you, you’re allowed to make mistakes. New Year’s resolutions often imply that you must make perfect and lasting change immediately with no space for error. But slips are a common part of making big life changes. There’s no need to be hard on yourself when they happen.
You can’t make a big improvement without also making a few mistakes along the way. Having a few slips on your path to change doesn’t mean you’ve failed, though. It means you’re working toward becoming a stronger version of yourself and that doesn’t happen overnight. Give yourself some grace and allow room for slips and mistakes.
No one makes big changes on their own. Sure, you’re the only one who can do the actual work. But you don’t have to do it in isolation. Let your friends and family know that you’re trying to make a big change over the next year and ask for their support.
This is especially important if your goal for the year involves alcohol. Trying to get and stay sober on your own can be almost impossible. Allow your loved ones to help and support you during this time so you can build a strong foundation for lasting change.