By Cheong Wen Xuan
Oh joy, it’s that time of the year again! Lurking insidiously behind the cheer of the holiday festivities is the heavy and depressing reminder that another year has passed, and we (or at least, most of us ~normal people~) have failed, once again, to stick to any of the New Year resolutions we set for 2018. We’ve gained instead of lost weight, eaten considerably more Big Macs than salads, and spent more hours on Instagram than actually talking to real-life people.
However, fret not, there’s no need to let your high hopes come crashing down, or to resign yourself to another year of languor, failure, and lack of ambition – comprised of waking up at noon, binge watching Netflix in bed, and surviving on a diet of ice cream and instant noodles (I feel ya).
If you want to burst into tears each time you hear someone mention “New Year’s resolution”, or if you’ve accepted the fact that you’re basically attempting the impossible and setting yourself up for imminent failure… Here’s how you can effectively set, stick to, and actually achieve your New Year’s resolutions. Take that, 2019!!
Many people set goals such as “Lose weight!” or “Quit drinking!”. Granted, these are great goals indeed, but they’re also lofty and vague goals, and truth is, you’re never going to achieve them, because there is no specific direction! When setting New Year’s resolutions, many people think of them merely as end goals, keying the coordinates for the final destination into the GPS and leaving it at that. However, when planning your resolutions, you should instead chart out a complete and comprehensive route map, complete with pit stops, road markers, a time plan, the works! Instead of saying “Get fit!”, you could try “Work out for 1hr on Mon, Wed, & Fri”, and instead of saying “Use less social media!”, you could go for “Cut down to XXX hours a day, and slowly decrease to XXX hours after XXX date”.
The more measurable, the better! Even if you think that your goals are not tangible, such as “Be more positive!”, there will surely a palpable way to quantify it – you could think positive thoughts three times a day, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner! When you set quantifiable goals and actually put a number to it, you are more likely to actually stick to them and follow through. Setting vague and general goals means you can start anytime and do it anyway and anyhow you like… which, face it, means you’re never going to do it.
The saying “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars” simply does not apply for New Year resolutions! It’s great to be idealistic and to have high hopes for yourself in the new year, but being honest with yourself and your capabilities is much more important. For example, if you’ve barely gotten off the couch or broken a sweat in years, your big goal of running a full marathon is laughable at best, and downright pitiful at worst. Far fetched and overly-ambitious goals are just not going to happen, and if you set goals which are unrealistic and not feasible, you instantly set yourself up to fail, and you will probably just end up feeling defeated and discouraged. You have to know yourself, and your goals have to be adjusted to your own means, in order to be achievable! Sometimes, in order to land on the moon, you have to aim for the stars first.
Don’t do it alone.
Getting a few friends on board really helps, because it establishes a support group in which everyone can check up on each other, and measuring and comparing your progress alongside that of others gives you that extra push you never knew you needed! Sure, the shared commitment to your cause will add a little pressure, but it also gives you a lot of motivation! When you have someone to strive together with, you become accountable to each other, and it’s a great way to police each other and make sure you don’t slack off. Sharing your goals with family and friends, and charting your progress together, is a great way to stay on track throughout the year.
Set sustainable goals.
Instead of being myopic, you should look long term when making your New Year’s resolutions! It’s not going to make a difference if you manage to hit the gym every day next year, but upon achieving your fitness goals, you cancel your gym membership and stop going entirely the following year. You shouldn’t view your resolutions as short term sprints, rather, they should be just one lap in what’s going to be a very long marathon. Do not set goals which will cause you to burn out or tire out once 31st December comes around, but set goals which will motivate you to do more the following year!
Don’t get too caught up in chasing your goals, such that you forget to pause and chart your progress! Keeping a journal and reflecting on your successes and failures is a good way to keep yourself on track. While it’s important to learn from your failures and to push yourself in areas you’ve been falling behind in, it’s also equally important to reward yourself for the little achievements, to celebrate your successes and breakthroughs, and to remember to encourage yourself! Being overly hard on yourself and beating yourself up does more harm than good, so do remember to be kind to yourself.
With all these tips, and with the right amount of discipline and ambition, you’re sure to achieve your New Year’s resolutions. So here’s to grabbing 2019 by the horns, and making it your year.