The problem with New Year’s resolutions
It is customary around this time of the year for people to write their New Year’s resolutions. In principle this is a good thing to do because you want to make progress and achieve new goals in the new year. But guess what, a lot of people don’t stick to their resolutions. They just forget about them.
This is not really surprising when you recall what the word “resolution” really means. It means “the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.” As such “resolution” has a degree of negativity and fight and therefore inertia implied in it. Like saying (I’m exaggerating) “I’m gonna stop the wall from falling on me”! In the context of a resolution, you have one or more issues and you want to resolve them. So you need to struggle and stay resolute and this in itself is not positive.
Here are a couple of canned New Year resolutions picked from some websites:
“Drink less alcohol.”
“Build a better budget.”
The thinking that goes behind such resolutions is like “It’s just fun to drink alcohol and easy to spend carelessly but I will need to curb my drinking and spending habits. In the new year I try to drink less and spend carefully but gosh it’s going to be though!”
I suggest you don’t write promises for the new year because promises may or may not be kept. Instead close your eyes for a minute or ten, meditate and see how you want your life to be in the coming year. Feel it and believe you can achieve it. That’s extremely important. Once you can feel yourself having something and you have faith you can achieve it, there will be no danger of faltering, as long as you keep reminding yourself of your goals.
Two important rules for goal setting
Goals must be stated in the positive. Don’t use negative words like “don’t” or “less” in your goals because, again, they imply a sense of fighting and resistance. Don’t use “want” or “will” either. Instead use “am going to”. Don’t use vague statements like “better budget”. Spend some time to determine exactly what it is that you want to achieve. It doesn’t have to be a precise numeric statement but something like “I’m going to make judicious use of every single dollar I earn.”
Remember you want to be in command of your life and this should reflect in the goals you set. They must not have any hint of despair, negativity or uncertainty in them.
You must be able to imagine and feel yourself doing and achieving what you want. For example if your goal is to run a marathon you should be able to imagine yourself preparing for the run, starting the run, how you feel in the middle of the run and how it feels to see the finish line in distance.
Here is one New Year vision of mine: “I’m going to have nimble fingers on the guitar fretboard”. As I read or recall this I can imagine my fingers going up and down the guitar neck and moving between strings like those of a master. And I know that I need to practice enthusiastically to achieve this.
Remember that your goals must be parts of the bigger picture of your life and not just some isolated wishes. Otherwise it will be easy to forget them.
Write your vision down and read it everyday
Write your vision it and be very descriptive. Use words that invoke your emotions. Read your vision every single first thing in the morning and also in the evening. After a while you’ll memorize it and will not need to read it. Then you just recite and imagine it.
You should also keep track of the progress you make towards your goals every week. Looking at what you’ve achieved gives you a dopamine rush and sets you ready for the way ahead.