2022 has begun. Fireworks are illuminating the dark winter sky, party–goers are sealing the new year’s arrival with a kiss from strange or familiar lips, others frantically scribble down what they want to change on the back of a napkin that they will lose come morning. The start of a new year can be exactly what we need, especially after the past few years we’ve had.
While not everyone makes New Year’s resolutions, everyone’s been asked at least once what their New Year’s resolutions are – sometimes before the previous year has ended. But less than 8% of people actually stick to their resolutions each year. Why is that?
The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, coinciding with when new crops were planted around mid-march. Early Christians, however, were the ones who started the tradition of reflecting on your mistakes in the last year and how to do better going forward. But for many of us, our goals are forgotten by Easter, if not earlier, mostly because of unrealistic expectations, loss of motivation or making resolutions because of tradition rather than actually wanting to change. With resolutions being about 4,000 years old, maybe they need to change rather than a personal yearly software update.
If you are still set on setting goals for the New Year, SMART goals are the ideal place to begin. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound: a flawless concoction for success. Many new year’s goals do not implement these elements with the most common goals being ‘lose weight’, ‘be more organised’ and ‘save money’, which leave a lot of room for confusion on how to start.
Setting specific goals can help you visualise your target more clearly. Rather than simply drawing a rough sketch of your idea, grab some colours and give depth to your goal, add shades to show a striking difference between the start, middle and end.
You also need to consider how you will measure your goal. For number based goals like saving money, it might be easier to keep track of how much you are saving – measuring the figures in your savings against your total goal amount. But for other goals, such as finding new hobbies, how to measure them might not seem as obvious. Keeping a record of your actions towards the goal could be an effective method – documenting what you have tried so far and whether or not the particular hobby was for you or not.
Attainable goals are the way to win. You might have written down last year that you intended to exercise more in the upcoming year, look back and think if you actually were able to achieve this goal and if not, what has changed since then that might make the goal more attainable in 2022. Implementing big and sudden changes might not be the best approach either. Going cold turkey from the very start is often how diet based goals start out, but instead of cutting meat out completely for example, you could map out what products you are going to cut out for each month of the year. If there is a specific food item, such as cheese, that you might find more difficult removing from your diet than others, there’s nothing that says you have to remove it. Instead of switching to a completely vegan diet, your goal could be to ‘implement a vegan diet excluding cheese by the end of 2022.’ That way you could feel more accomplished in your goals as they have been tailored to you specifically.
While the most common goals could cater to a wide selection of the population, they might not be for you. And that’s perfectly okay! Don’t set goals if you do not feel that they are relevant to your life. You might know that you’ll be moving in the upcoming year so you could make one of your goals to be to prepare for the cost of moving. You might have noticed you spend too much time on social media so your goal could be to only open social media apps for a few hours a day.
While the overall time limit is to complete your goals by the end of the year, implementing goals in between the overarching goal might help put your goal into perspective throughout the year.
The five most common New Year’s resolutions according to Google are:
To make these more SMART goals, they would look something like:
It can be difficult to maintain motivation from January all the way to December on the same goal, especially if you’re doing it alone. Having a friend or family member who either has a similar goal to you or who will push you can help keep you on track for your goals. Simply an outsider’s perspective on whether they can see any changes might inspire you to carry on. It is also good to use a reward system for when you reach certain milestones. If your goal is to lose 50 pounds, for example, set yourself a reward for each 10 pounds you lose – either a reward food or treating yourself to those shoes that’ve been in your shopping basket for months.
Taking breaks throughout the year might awaken motivation to keep on going. You don’t have to actively be trying to reach your goal throughout the year. You could make small changes throughout the year or set times where you don’t think about it and just enjoy the moment. This can help with many goals, one of the most common being to lose weight. Don’t think about what you’re eating for a few weeks before getting back into it. Though that might not work for everyone. Having a long list can be daunting. Focus on one goal you want to complete this year – you can always add more later on if you complete your initial goal. Making lists and ticking them off can give a sense of accomplishment but not ticking them off can have a negative impact.
There is also no hard and fast rule that you have to make them in the first place. If by New Year’s Eve you are content with your life, forcing a change in the name of tradition would do more harm than good. Instead, you could write a list of what you are looking forward to in the new year, whether it be a release of a film or a holiday abroad. There’s also no rule that the goals you set at the start of the year can’t change over the course of 2022. What you vowed to change under the spell of fireworks and Bucks Fizz might not carry throughout the year for a mix of reasons.
Just go with the flow and remember to be the most authentic version of you. Whether that means implementing changes or not is entirely up to you.
The Cohorted Team wishes everyone a Happy New Year!