This year, rather than setting New Year resolutions, why not create yourself goals instead? We look at ways to keep these achievable, positive and fulfilling…
The last couple of years have been challenging for many of us. With so many twists and turns, restrictions, guidelines and unknowns, it’s been a rollercoaster. As we head into 2022 it's important to remain realistic when it comes to setting expectations and aspirations.
Tradition means many of us will consider setting 'New Year Resolutions', encouraging life changes for the better and two of the most popular ones usually are:
With the global pandemic far from over, the likelihood of reduced travel and continued social distancing from friends and family is a distant prospect. Whilst frustrating, several popular resolutions remain achievable:
Keep Goals Realistic & Achievable
With all that said, it's important to remain realistic and not set yourself up to 'fail'.
Consider your own personal circumstance and what these last couple of years have taught you. This will allow you to make positive changes, which might be small at first, but could have a huge impact on your mental wellbeing over the year. Here are five key tactics you might want to try when setting your goals:
First of all, maybe take out the "new year" aspect! January can be a difficult month for everyone. The weather's bad, you're perhaps still getting over the spending and overindulging of Christmas. It's all a bit overwhelming - so why make it more challenging for yourself? Take the month to reflect, plan, and then start on your goals in February. You could even set your starting date on 14th February, Valentine's Day, as a sign of love for yourself!
Your goals need to be worth setting if they are to be worth doing. Test them out before you commit. Think about each goal - why do you want to do it? What do you hope to get out of it? Is there another action or goal that would give you the same outcome, but which would be either easier or more pleasant to take on?
It might help to have one goal at a time: you could set one for the first quarter of the year, then review how you've done and either make some adjustments or start working towards a new goal. You could have one for Q1, then Q2 etc.
Some goals can work in an "eased in" approach. For example, say you want to eat more healthy food. Instead of a full-on "I will only eat healthy food" resolution you could set a goal to try one new, healthy meal once a week. If you like it then it can be incorporated into your usual meal planning - if you don't like it, at least you know, and you can try another next week!
This leads on nicely to -
Do Rather Than Don't
Focus on the positive, not the negative. So in the above example, you emphasise the new healthy foods you will try out, rather than the old, less-healthy ones you are giving up. Or, if your aim is to "Stop being a couch potato" maybe resolve to "find an exercise I enjoy and do it once a week" or "meet up with a friend for a walk and a chat."
Could - Not Should
You may have noticed a lot of "maybe" or "could" or "might" in this article - and that's deliberate. The language you use with yourself is very important. If you set a "must do" resolution then the first time you fail to do it you risk feeling like all is lost and you just give up on the resolution altogether. However, if you set goals, where you say to yourself, "I will try to" or "I will find ways to" - there's always next time!
Perhaps the healthiest aspects of New Year resolutions are the thought and reflection that goes into making them and the efforts you make - and new things you learn - along the way. So, perhaps, try not to focus just on the end result but on the journey there.
Finally, and most importantly, be kind to yourself. Set a goal that motivates you, and try not to make challenges too big or too fast. If these last couple of years have taught us anything, it's to appreciate the small things in life. Therefore, setting a goal to give up chocolate might be just one step too far!