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Revitalize Your Life: Unleash the Power of New Year's Resolutions in 2024!

As we usher in the new year of 2024, I’m sure the phrase “New Year’s Resolution” arose in your mind, popped up in conversation or was overheard on the street. It is something we all think about, plan and attempt, year in year out. It is the “catch phrase” on the tip of everyone’s tongue at this time of year. But what compels us, each year, to make New Year’s resolutions?


The New Year symoblises a new beginning, a fresh start and a chance to begin the year with a “clean slate.” So it is almost human nature to want to reflect on the past year and commit to making positive changes in your life. For many, it may be more than that too. It may be a chance to renew our spiritual connection and religious observance.


Making New Year’s resolutions is something we have all done, continue to do and most probably failed at. Research suggests that 80% of people who made New Year’s resolutions will have failed by the end of February. The question is why are we so bad at sticking to the goals we make?


The answer lies in why and how we make these resolutions. I am sure you have all experienced being incredibly inspired and motivated to make lofty or aspirational New Year’s resolutions in the heightened state of inspiration brought on by the New Year. This is known as the “fresh-start” effect.

In the lead up to New Years, it is almost impossible to resist the temptation of making positive pledges for the new year. There is such a socially driven, “pop culture” New Years message pervasive in the media.

But unfortunately, this intense moment (or days) of inspiration often do not last long, we often lose momentum and motivation quickly as the central source disappears. It would be nice to say that the inspiration of New Years lasts for longer, but realistically we know it usually does not. We go back to our everyday lives, often completely forgetting about the commitments we have made.  


A major error we might be making here is making emotionally based decisions which are less effective and sustainable. Rather, logical and calculated decisions based on careful reflection and evaluation of the past year can help us stick to our New Years’ resolutions. “Where did I really slip up last year?”, ‘Where do I need to improve in the new year?”.


The language we use when making these commitments also impacts the effectiveness e.g. use “will” rather than “should”. View unsuccessful attempts at achieving goals as “lapses” or “momentary blips” rather than “failures” or “relapses” in achieving our ultimate goals. Reframe “procrastination” as a chance to relax and recharge. It is healthy to “let go” occasionally, and you will be better for it (I am sure many of you will be happy to read that 😊). Viewing the process of achieving goals and resolutions as a “journey” or “reaching a destination” (or the use of some other metaphor) is considered motivational. With this attitude, you may not feel so bad about struggling to achieve your goals.


Despite the slightly gloomy outlook about the success of New Year’s resolutions presented above, there are some simple steps and tips you can follow to help make them more successful. Here is an easy mnemonic or acronym to guide you- S.M.A.R.T.




Here I use a weight loss example to illustrate this tool, as it is probably the most common New Year’s resolution, although there are so many others to work towards as well. (So I encourage you to be inventive and creative in thinking of your goals.)  


- stands for SPECIFIC. Goals must be specific to be feasible. It would likely to less effective to just say that “I would like to be healthier”. “What does that look like?” “How does one achieve that?” Instead, be sure to be very clear of what you would like to achieve through making your resolutions. “I would like to lose 4kg”.


- stands for MEASURABLE. You must be able to measure your progress and success in achieving your goals. Weight loss goals are generally easy to monitor. A daily or weekly jump on the scale will be sure to keep you on track.


- stands for ACHEIVABLE. Our resolutions must be in our reach and capacity. This is a trap that many of us get into. We make or attempt resolutions which are over ambitious, too large in quality or quantity to be attainable. Less is more when it comes to resolutions. It may be very impressive or commendable to aim to run a marathon next month, but if you are used to being sedentary or exercising seldomly, you are unlikely to meet this goal with much success. Rather, set out to walk, say 30mins, 3 times a week, initially.  For someone who exercises regularly or is looking to add it to their daily routine, by breaking it down into daily portions is likely to be achievable.   

    

- stands for RELEVANT. Your resolutions should be applicable and relevant to you and your circumstances. Is it something important or worthwhile to you?  Is it something that is applicable to you or your life? Often, we do things because it looks good in other peoples’ eyes, not for ourselves. It will be a lot harder to achieve goals which are not intrinsically motivating. You may feel compelled to lose weight because everyone else is trying to. But if you do not feel that you really need to or are not recommended to do so by a qualified health professional, you will probably find this very difficult (it is hard enough to do even with these motivations).


T- stands for TIME-ORIENTED. When goals are anchored by time, they are much easier to accomplish. Specifying that you would like to lose 4kg in one month is more effective than leaving the time frame open-ended.


Some other tips and tricks you can use to help you set and achieve realistic resolutions include ensuring both importance and enjoyment are considered when making them. Resolutions do not have to be about becoming a better version of yourself (superficially) but can be about living a deeper, more fulfilling and meaningful life e.g., investing more time into hobbies, relationships with others or spiritual endeavors. These may be less punishing and therefore more achievable. Verbalising your commitment to others makes you more accountable for your actions. Careful planning of what, where, why and how of the goals is crucial. Ensure you make contingency plans and outline how you will handle obstacles and challenges.


Keeping these guidelines and tips in mind, the likelihood of sticking to your New Years’ resolutions is greatly increased. Wishing you a happy, healthy and blessed New Year.

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