The New Year is just around the corner, which means it is time to make a resolution or two.
So, what will it be in 2019: get fitter (again!?), spend more time with family and less time on the internet (wait, what?!), finish writing that book (uh, oh!), travel the world (sigh!), earn more money, perhaps?
While the new year stirs hope and optimism in our hearts, the truth is most of us will do in 2019 exactly what we have been doing year after year—set a few goals that will be forgotten by the end of February, if not sooner.
So, this year why not try and do something different? How about making no resolutions at all?
Before you scream, “What!? But it is the New Year! A time to reset the clock and go about achieving my full potential,” just hear me out.
Isn’t it pointless to keep making the same resolutions year after year, when all it does is lead to disappointment and feelings of inadequacy and failure?
So, keeping all this in mind, we went around speaking to people who have given up making new year resolutions.
And guess what they told us?
They said they follow their own self-improvement schedule, and don’t wait until the year begins or ends to set or achieve new goals:
Change happens when you act upon your intentions, and the best time to act is NOW!
“I used to get very excited about making resolutions every year, only to find my enthusiasm waning in the first few months,” says software engineer Shreya Mathur.
Shreya not only found her “failure” discouraging but it also undermined her future efforts to set achievable targets. “It led me to believe that I did not have the willpower or discipline to overcome my negative habits”.
However, Shreya quickly realised that her resolutions were failing because she was procrastinating instead of working on her goals immediately. “I decided to start working on myself as soon as possible and not wait for some magical and glorified date on the calendar”.
In the last three years since she gave up making new year resolutions and being more intentional in her life choices, Shreya has learned a new language, volunteered in Africa, and read a new book every week!
Start small and build up on it as you go along
Alok Singh believes that the number one reason his resolutions did not work was because he was setting unrealistic goals.
“For years I had been resolving to get fitter and run a marathon. Every January, I would buy a gym membership and stride in confidently, only to realise that I couldn’t do it day after day because of various business and family commitments.”
When his son’s school started an after-hours fitness programme for students and their parents, Alok signed up in the hope of spending some quality time with his teenager. “The sessions were fun and unstructured. We did everything from stretching exercises to kick-boxing. And bit by bit, the enjoyment and stress-free nature of the activity developed into a habit and I started putting aside some time every day toward my larger fitness goal.”
As his enthusiasm and stamina started building up, Alok also started running a few metres every day at his local park and then increasing the distance each week.
By breaking down his fitness goals into smaller, less intimidating chunks, Alok was able to not only bring discipline in his exercise regime but also build mental and physical endurance. “And though I still haven’t run a marathon yet, I am 15 kilos lighter and can easily beat my son in a race!”
Have a clear strategy, and set specific and measurable goals
While Rajini Menon has lost count of the number of times she has resolved to switch to a greener and more organic diet, a health scare a couple of years ago made her realise it was “now or never”.
“Even with my physical and emotional health on the line, giving up processed foods and meats seemed like a daunting task,” says Rajini who decided that in order to succeed she needed a concrete plan. “Instead of giving up animal products all at once, I began by eating meat only twice a week, and then kept reducing it until I could completely give it up a few months later.”
An architect by profession, Rajni feels that goals need to be measurable in order to be effective. “I was too vague about the dietary changes I wanted to make. While my long-term goal was to eat healthier, I eventually achieved it by thinking short-term and by being very clear about what I was going to do.”
She says that being specific was essential to her success and it also made it easier for her to monitor progress and make the necessary adjustments. “And though I cheat on my diet every now and then, I know I will never go off track again.”
In a nutshell, all of us can do with some improvements in our lives. However, planning to implement change or setting goals is not something we should strive to do only once a year.
So, let us do away with New Year resolutions and continue to make small and big changes in our lives throughout the year.
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