Making New Year’s resolutions is one of my favorite traditions of the holiday season. “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” is an unavoidable question asked of friends, family, and coworkers alike this time of year.
Interestingly enough, setting New Year’s resolutions is a rather old practice. Ancient Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, and even medieval knights used to participate in practices not entirely unlike the ones we have today. In fact, the most recent form of New Year’s resolutions that parallel our modern practices came from the Christian Methodists. John Wesley held watch-night services in which his congregation would pray and make promises to God on the eve or first day of the New Year.
Personally, I love the whole idea of setting resolutions and creating grand, overarching goals that span the course of an entire year. They can be a wonderful way to stretch yourself and grow towards becoming a better you. In the past, I saw resolutions as cheesy. I even thought of them like I think of an old person’s dentures—useful for some people, just not for me. To me, resolutions were goals (often irritating ones) that either left people dissatisfied, unsatisfied, or entirely aggravated with failed performance.
As I got older, though, I began to see the benefit of setting these large-scale objectives. For instance, I have adopted the practice of making lists and have become more organized all because of a resolution a couple of years ago. Ever since, I have been trying to set other beneficial resolutions that could help me in my life’s journey.
But what kinds of resolutions are beneficial? Of course, there are the classic ones that come up every year. Pew Research resolution data revealed that top resolutions were to “spend less money or save more,” “be a better person,” and, to no surprise, “exercise more”, each boasting 12 percent of respondents. Other common resolutions are typically improving career positions, taking certain trips, meeting new people, and becoming more spiritually inclined.
While I’m a big fan of these generic goals, I’ve usually made my resolutions quirky goals dealing with specific undertakings. One year, for instance, I made my resolution based entirely on clichés such as Dr. Seuss’ “The more that you read, the more you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” That year, I greatly increased my reading amount and was even able to breeze through 10 leisure books in my summer alone.
But whether you like your resolutions common or quirky, here are some points I’ve found to be very helpful in meeting resolutions with success:
1. Make Smart Resolutions
One helpful pointer is using the concept of “SMART” goals. This clever acronym suggests goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. When resolutions are “SMART”, there is a greater likelihood that they will be accomplished since the added qualifications help keep one grounded in reality. Take the common resolution to “work out more,” for instance. As is, the resolution is vague and offers no direction. A “SMART” version of it would be to “lift weights for an hour four days a week throughout the year.” This would help one stay focused and ultimately, have a better chance for success.
2. Categorize Your Resolutions
Breaking down resolutions into different life categories has also helped me greatly. For instance, since I love the outdoors, I make a separate list of goals featuring places I want to hike, amount of times I’d like to camp, and different backcountry sports I want to try for the upcoming year. This separate list forms my outdoor resolution. I also have one for books I hope to read and articles I hope to write and other miscellaneous goals as well. I’ve found it helpful to simplify my aspirations into bite-sized chunks.
3. Write Them Down
Another tool that I’ve found useful is actually writing down resolutions (or typing them). I think there is something special about actually codifying one’s resolutions onto a formal document in a way of proclaiming “this is serious” to yourself and to the world. It adds another level of accountability. Last year, I took this a step further and began writing how I performed next to my resolution for the previous year. It has helped me stay in line throughout the year knowing that I will have to come back at the year’s end to see how I stacked up.
4. Get A Resolution Buddy
Grab a close relative or friend and share resolutions with one another along with a promise to hold each other accountable. I’m actually going to be implementing an accountability partner for the first time this year since I think I probably would have been better off with 2017’s resolutions if I had one. Accountability partners force us to produce results and, additionally, force us to focus on the success of someone other than ourselves, which produces humility, which helps us concentrate on the more important things in life.
5. Commit Them To The Lord
The final tip for fulfilling a resolution—and it happens to be the most important tip—is to connect to the very roots of this whole tradition. We would be better off bringing our resolutions before God and asking for His strength as we embark on a new journey towards new destinations in a new year. We can promise our friends, our coworkers, even ourselves that we resolve to do these new things. But let us not forget to take a moment and make our promises to God that we will faithfully strive to achieve what He sets before us.
Believe Success Is Possible!
Many people think there is no point to making resolutions because, in the end, they are going to fail anyway. I want to encourage you to keep your head up. Even if you’ve failed at resolutions in the past, the beauty of this tradition is that each year brings new chances for success! The past is the past and it does not have to dictate how you will perform in the New Year. Start with a fresh mindset, one that assumes success is around the corner, and you will be more likely to achieve it.
And also, don’t think failure indicates the end of the road. Failure often helps motivate you to discover more effective ways of achieving your goals. Resolutions are not a place to arrive at–they are a continual journey of progress. No one will ever be perfectly fit, perfectly manage money, or do anything else perfectly. Perfection doesn’t exist! It’s about the growth through the process. One year, part of my resolution dealt with punctuality and time management. Did I achieve it perfectly? Nope. And that’s okay because I have become more punctual nonetheless and have continued to strive to become more punctual still. The journey has been beneficial and continues to challenge me today and that has made all the difference.
As this section of life winds down and we approach the next segment, I hope you take time to reflect on the past year and consider all that has happened, both the good and bad, the ups and the downs. I also hope you decide to join in on a millennium-old tradition and form resolutions for the upcoming year.
Whether they are resolutions for fitness, or finances, or friendships, I hope you will see these unique goals as a beneficial means by which we can be challenged to grow in exciting new ways.