2022 is here! How are your New Year’s resolutions panning out?
If you made some, you’re not alone. People have been declaring such resolutions for centuries as a long-established self-help tradition.
However, according to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate of these declarations is as high as 80 percent, so an alternate approach is clearly needed. Experts believe that various factors, including resolution expectations, how long resolutions are, and even how you phrase them, can impact your results. The tips below can help you think differently about your New Year’s resolutions, making them more rewarding.
- Take one good look back.
When you make a New Year’s resolution, it’s an opportunity: you have a clean slate and an entire twelve months to achieve amazing milestones. But this mindset often includes the assumption that your slate has to be wiped clean, i.e., you need a do-over to improve upon—or perhaps forget about—the previous year. You may think you’re beginning the new year on a positive note, but the springboard for it is subconsciously negative.
Instead, reminisce about the prior year with pride. Take one last look at your 2021 accomplishments, especially considering you achieved them during a pandemic, and use that as the momentum to continue doing even more great things in 2022.
- Make a resolution connection.
Here’s an interesting question: How often do you make New Year’s resolutions with others or ask others to help you achieve them? In truth, these are often solitary journeys—but perhaps they shouldn’t be. A study in Sweden showed that someone having your back might be pivotal to both short-term and long-term resolution success.
- Remember that words matter.
According to Merriam-Webster.com, to resolve is “to reach a firm decision about” something. Does that sound realistic for a resolution that spans an entire year ahead? For example, you may vow to lose weight in 2022, but without a crystal ball to peek into the future, that may be an unrealistic commitment. You may encounter obstacles, such as a family crisis or unexpected news, that may cause you to forgo your resolution. Such is life, and it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure, but because you broke your “firm decision,” it can feel disappointing.
Instead, swap out the word “resolutions” for something like “goals” or “wish list” for the year, which is a more optimistic, open-ended approach. Similarly, instead of saying “I hope to” or “I aim to,” make use of phrases like “my goals are,” which will reinforce your positivity as the year progresses. And the Swedish study produced another gem to consider: an important word to keep in mind seems to be “adding” rather than “subtracting,” which was a key element to success for participants in the study. So, for example, vowing to eat more fruits and vegetables leads to more success than forgoing chocolate.
- Think short term as much as long term.
Naturally, most people establish goals for the entire year since they’re making them on or around January 1; however, they won’t magically happen because the calendar has turned over. As mentioned earlier, making your resolutions year-based may not always be the best course of action. In fact, you might find it more effective to plan month by month, week by week, or even daily.
So, for example, if you want to be more humanitarian in 2022, get creative and think of how you can do something different each month to help people. It could be shoveling your neighbors’ driveways and sidewalks when it snows or checking in with relatives once a week in February. If you’ve resolved to declutter your mind and home this year, donate or upcycle one item per week that you don’t need. A daily goal can simply be making a positive comment to yourself or someone else. All these examples illustrate that whittling down your goals into manageable mini goals not only makes it easier to achieve them but also keeps them fresh.
Focusing on SMART goals may help. This acronym-based tool helps keep people laser-focused on their goals by making sure they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. For example, if you decide that you want to save money in 2022, narrow down your goal. Specify an amount (say, $1,200), how you will measure it ($100 per month) and how you plan to achieve it (home-brewed coffee instead of Starbucks), why it matters (a down payment for a car), and your end date.
- Write your goals down.
Studies repeatedly show that people remember and follow through on things if they jot them down somewhere. This also applies to your 2022 to-do list, which you can keep on a fridge whiteboard, on a piece of paper, or in a notes app on your phone. In addition, journaling has become a popular method of succeeding at goals and can be a creative way to help you achieve yours.
Here’s another tip. If you really want to simplify a goal, challenge yourself to think of and jot down a word that you want to define your year as a whole, such as “happiness,” “peace,” or “success,” and then keep a running list of the ways you achieved it, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. They very well may become a significant piece of the puzzle for your year’s overall success.
In January, people often put a lot of thought and energy into what they want to accomplish in the coming year. But your top priority should be rethinking your goals and making them more focused, productive, and attainable. By going about it differently, you’re more likely to look back and smile at your success by year’s end.