What is it about January 1st of a new year that we decide the world is our oyster and we can dream impossible dreams and climb to new heights? What is so magical about the change from December 31st to January 1st that we go from dismal “I’m a failure at life” to “I’m going to be the next superhero and change the world?”
I have a roller coaster relationship with new year’s resolutions. I did them for a while after college and then felt that they didn’t actually inspire any change in my life and so I stopped making them. Then I got married and my husband is a believer in “new year = new goals”, so I started doing them again, albeit skeptically.
However, as we planned our new goals for 2017 and looked back at our goals for 2016, I realized that setting new year’s resolutions was actually helpful for me. I actually accomplished most of my new year’s resolutions in 2016 which led me to ponder what brought about that change. After years of yo-yoing on new year’s resolutions, why are they finally working?
I think it’s three factors.
1. I had to decide that I was done with unrealistic dreams.
I was ready to accomplish something which means being honest about what works and what doesn’t. For me, that involved setting schedules and developing habits. Take for example, exercise. I’m not someone who wakes up at 5am and goes to the gym. So rather than set that as a goal and then fail year after year, I’m changing the goal so that I still accomplish the end result but in my own way. I exercise in the evenings. Do I still wish I could bound out of bed in the wee hours of the morning? Yep! But I’ve realized I’m not one for bounding so instead let’s make realistic new year’s goals and then be able to be successful! Sometimes admitting that you won’t be able to do something is the best way to start completing the bigger goal!
2. I had to accept the reality of change.
I don’t actually become a different person in the hours I’m asleep between the end of last year and the beginning of a new one. I’m still the same old me! Which means I’m not going to suddenly have new abilities and disciplines to accomplish all my dreams in 2017. Instead it means that I need to understand effective change happens step by step. We all know the parable of the tortoise and the hare and the take-away being “slow and steady wins the race.” But I think we call admit that fast and furious change is way more exciting and what we prefer! Well last month I watched a video on YouTube where they actually put a tortoise and hare in a race. And guess what? The hare left the tortoise in its tracks… until half-way down the lane, the hare became distracted by something in the stands…and wouldn’t you know, slowly but surely, that tortious plodded on and crossed the finish line first! Maybe that’s why nutritionists say its’ better to lose small amounts of weight weekly than tons of weight all at once…. Hmmm… it’s all making sense now! The reality of change means taking things slow and seeing long-term transformation rather than the instant gratification that is fleeting and underdeveloped.
3. I had to value the importance of a deadline.
I was always critical about setting goals year by year. I felt that if a goal was worth accomplishing then I shouldn’t take an entire year for it, or it shouldn’t be something that ends after one year! I’m realizing now that I totally missed the point of yearly resolutions. It’s actually not about the length of time as much as it is about a deadline. At least for me (and probably a lot of other people too), we work better knowing there’s a due date for our tasks. I do laundry because I have a deadline (my deadline being when we run out of clean underwear). I cook because I have a deadline driven by my hunger. I get things done at work by prioritizing them on their deadlines. See the common thread? Deadlines are there to help us be productive and work on our tasks, projects, or goals. I had to start seeing December 31st as a deadline to work towards rather than a random date used for traditions. Deadlines drive productivity.
So this year, I’ve made my resolutions and I’m actually excited about working on them because they’re actually doable and I will better myself by accomplishing them. 2017 I’m coming for you! Who’s with me?
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About Holly's Blog
Holly loves to write, and you'll find her blog covers all different topics!