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New Year, New Goals

New Year, New Goals

2021 is already a month down, eleven months more to go. Did you set any resolutions or goals for the year? There have been varied views about new year resolutions. Some believe that new year resolutions serve as a guide to achieve things in the new year. Others believe that new year resolutions are just formalities that have absolutely no bearing on what one achieves in the year.

Researchers Norcross and Vangarelli (1989) observed some 200 people who had made resolutions pertaining to their weight loss, relationship improvement, smoke cessation and some other issues. They observed that 77% of participants were able to stick to their resolutions a week into the new year. A month later, 55% of participants were still sticking to their resolutions, 43% three months later, 40% six months later and 19% after two years.

This study pointed to the fact that a number of factors influences the ability to stick to or hold on to new year resolutions. Some of the factors include great willpower, a high use of stimulus control and the consistent use of self-reward. Other researchers indicate that readiness to change and self-efficacy are factors that contribute positively to achieving new year resolutions (Norcross, Ratzin & Payne, 1989 ; Norcross, Mrykalo & Blagys, 2002 ).

Although it might be a great start to set resolutions, the benefit lies in working to achieve whatever your resolution focuses on. How then does one reach or achieve one’s resolution?

Set realistic goals. Sometimes, the challenge with some new year resolutions is how it fits into one’s own reality. When goals are not realistic based on your own situation, it may be a daunting task to achieve them. Sometimes, you may be living out someone’s reality instead of yours.

For instance, you may be interested in working on your weight, say lose some weight. Setting a goal in this direction is not bad at all. However, it may become a daunting task if you decide to take a lot of drastic measures at once. For someone who may not be a regular fitness person, it may be best to set a pace for exercises. You can decide to begin with 30 minutes of exercise a day and work on achieving this in a month. Gradually, you should be able to build up to 45 minutes or an hour a day in the following month or quarter and then keep on building on the pace. It may be unrealistic to begin with an hour or two filled with exercises when your body has barely made any adjustments. This could get you frustrated and result in you being discouraged from pursuing the goal.

Set specific goals. People often tend to state their resolutions in general terms. This provides some form of covering and exerts less pressure on them to achieve those goals. When a goal is specific, it provides information about how one will be able to achieve that goal. For instance, two people may decide to set goals regarding reading for a year. Person A may state his or her goal as “Read more books this year” while Person B may state his or her goal as “Read 30 books this year”. Person B’s resolution would push him or her to come up with a plan to be able to read 30 books within the year while Person A’s resolution may not cause him to take much action in the course of the year.

Write down your goals. It is great to think about a goal you may want to achieve in a year. It will be much better to write down those goals. Writing them down helps in keeping yourself in check and motivating you to work towards achieving the goal. One may easily forget a goal they have in mind because the brain will have to process many things as the year progresses. Hence, there is a high tendency of forgetting whatever goal one may have in mind. Writing goals down will also help provide motivation in the future when those goals are achieved in the year. One can always reflect on how previous year’s goals were achieved to work hard to achieve goals set for a new year.

It is never late to set goals for the year. You can assess yourself, pick up a notepad or use apps such as Todoist, Microsoft to do, Trello, Asana to note down your goals for 2021. Motivate yourself, find a support system to keep you in check and work hard to achieve your goals. In the end, you will realise that it has paid off.

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Norcross, J. C., Mrykalo, M. S., & Blagys, M. D. (2002). Auld lang Syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self‐reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. Journal of clinical psychology, 58(4), 397-405.

Norcross, J. C., Ratzin, A. C., & Payne, D. (1989). Ringing in the New Year: The change processes and reported outcomes of resolutions. Addictive Behaviors, 14(2), 205-212.

Norcross, J. C., & Vangarelli, D. J. (1988). The resolution solution: Longitudinal examination of New Year’s change attempts. Journal of substance abuse, 1(2), 127-134.

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