When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, our abysmal success rate indicates we’re going about this all wrong. Here’s how to re-envision what 2018 can look like for you in terms of personal growth.
As the saying goes: New year, new you. But when you stop to think about it, that’s kinda messed up, because a) You’re literally always you, and there’s no such thing as discarding your past self, and b) You’re real good the way you are.
And even if there’s room for improvement (which is true for all of us, maybe even Rihanna), upon closer examination, the most common resolutions out there are some bullshit. According to data culled over the course of 2017, over 20 percent of resolution-ers pledged to lose weight, and the next most common is “self-improvement” at 12 percent.
Of course, the underlying sentiment behind both of these objectives isn’t harmful in and of itself; “work on your health” and “work on yourself” are actually a pretty good self-care mottos. But considering only 9 percent of respondents from the study felt they were successful in achieving their resolution, we’re clearly experiencing a disconnect of sorts.
So, how does one go about setting intentions that aren’t punitive at their core (looking at you,dieting marketplace) and thus destined for failure? It’s all about reframing your perspective.
Check out the following techniques that’ll come up big when it comes to setting kind, effective resolutions for 2018.
Practice patience, and then practice some more patience
Try as you might, you’re not going to wake up a different person on January 1, 2018. Chances are, you’ve shaped a resolution around your most problematic habits precisely because they’re the ones that have the strongest hold on you; thus, they’re going to be the hardest to shake.
For instance, take the very common resolution of being better with money. Rather than making unrealistic promises to yourself like, “I’ll never impulse buy another highly impractical, difficult-to-pee-in jumpsuit again,” keep the long-view in mind and start out slowly.
As Teresa Orsolini, CMO of Swell Investing, puts it, “It’s so important to think about saving as a long-term game, because money favors time.” And ICYMI, when finance folk start waxing poetic about how awesome “time” is, that’s code for “compound interest.”
“Compound interest is the same magic trick that makes your credit card statement go up each month. But it can work in your favor when you invest in your future,” she says. But if investing seems like a lotat this particular moment, there are certainly ways to ease yourself in.
Orsolini recommends setting aside a set amount of each paycheck, like you would a bill or another fixed expense, and automating it, so you don’t even have to think about it.
“The best amount to save is simply the most you can afford. Budget your money and live below your means, then save the rest. If there’s still nothing left over, make lifestyle changes or even start a rewarding side hustle,” she says.
But above all else, this is the important thing to keep in mind when you’re approaching a new year: “Don’t beat yourself up for not saving earlier. Remember that 2018 can be the year that you put yourself on the right track.”
Adjust your definition of what “success” looks like
Resolutions have a funny way of getting reductive real fast. All too often, our goals are shaped around arbitrary benchmarks rather than a holistic picture of progress e.g. resolving to make better use of your time by fitting in more, more, more.
But Erin Falconer, productivity expert and author of the forthcoming book How to Get Sh*t Done: Why Women Need to Stop Doing Everything So They Can Achieve Anything, cautions against a quantity-driven mindset.
“When thinking about time management, people often make the mistake of looking for new, creative ways to rearrange their schedule. However, if you want to make major strides, it’s not about rearranging, it’s about eliminating,” she says.
“Make an honest assessment of your goals, and then start eliminating anything on your schedule that doesn’t move the needle towards those goals. Doing this allows for more time spent on the stuff that matters, and ultimately, your productivity and overall fulfillment with what you’re doing will start to skyrocket.”
Be kind to yourself
As these things tend to go, the more ambitious your resolution, the more it’s going to sting if you don’t meet it. When you set out to determine what a realistic, achievable goal might be, assign a generosity of perspective to it, and as Falconer points out, don’t be afraid to feel good about the good days in between, regardless of where you end up:
“Appreciate small and large victories along the way. You can do something every day to work towards your goals, but it means little if you don’t recognize the accomplishment,” she says. “Taking the time out to take stock of what you’ve accomplished each week is worth the time spent. Likewise, checking in to see what hasn’t worked can be just as valuable. And having fun while you’re doing it is perhaps most important.”
Additionally, she stresses the importance of taking the time to actually envision what achieving a long-term goal or resolution will look like, especially considering progress may feel very slow.
As she puts it, “Visualize how you’ll feel when you accomplish your goal. Really sit in that place and feel the victory, feel what it will mean for you and what future doors it can open. Putting yourself mentally in that place of success is a motivator unlike anything else.”