As we are approaching the new year, it’s that time where we start thinking about our goals for 2024. More often than not, the week of motivation to follow our new year goals starts to wear off – you’ve broken into your running shoes, sticking to your budget, eating healthier just like you said you would. But most of us, by the second week of the new year start to fall back into our same old habits. It makes setting new goals for the new year feel quite pointless since it rarely seems to follow through…
Are new year resolutions a waste of time?
There is nothing wrong with aspiring to better ourselves for the new year, and in fact it’s a great opportunity for a new slate to challenge ourselves and work towards our goals, whether that be work, personal, health, or community centric. The reason why we usually struggle to abide to our goals is not because we aren’t capable of achieving them, but it is because we set our expectations too high and focus too much on the end result instead of the path to getting there.
For example, setting the goal of ‘exercise more’ sounds okay in the moment but when we haven’t reached the goal in the first few weeks of the year, it feels disheartening and causes most of us to give up on the goal. So a huge downside of making new year resolutions is that it can make us feel like we have ‘failed’ when we don’t meet them immediately. This usually happens because we make our goals too broad, which is the second problem with new year resolutions. If you want the best chance at sticking out your resolutions, make them SMART goals(Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based). Thirdly, if our goals aren’t our own goals, then they most likely will fall through…Do you ACTUALLY want to cut out coffee or start going for more jogs around the block? Maybe you’ve heard someone else doing the same and so you’ve said, ‘Why not?’
Essentially, new year resolutions are not a waste of time if we can figure out how to make them attainable. Rather than putting pressure on ourselves, to instead take these goals as an opportunity to better ourselves one step at a time.
“I’m going to eat better to lose weight”
This is probably one of the most common resolutions that most people add to the top of their list. I is usually a goal that gets recycled every year because it’s not specific enough to be a SMART goal. It is too focused on the end goal, which is to ‘lose weight’ rather than being specific towards the smaller steps.
Instead of saying I will lose 5kg in 2024, a more sustainable goal could be to:
- Not drink alcohol during the week
- Swap your soft drink for water
- Pack your own lunch
These small steps are much easier to follow, and gives you a guided approach to your ‘eating better’ without having a weight centric goal. The best thing is that these small changes add up making your resolution to ‘eat better’ a much more SMART (Specific, Measurable, Relevant, and Time-based)
“I’m going to get in shape”
This is another popular goal that many people don’t hesitate to put on the top of their new year resolution list. Just like the nutrition example, this goal is difficult to accomplish and requires a lot of moving pieces to properly fall into place. This goal will seem much more attainable if you can break it down into a series of mid-term stepping stones
Instead of a single ‘final’ destination:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Have at least 30 minutes of mobility each day
- Team up with a workout buddy
- Find a physical activity that you enjoy
“I’m going to fix my sleep schedule”
Yet another fan favourite new year resolution; to fix the sleep schedule. To simply enter the new year with this broad goal is unlikely to hold you accountable enough to actually fix up your sleep schedule. Smaller, more tangible goals to break this up into could be:
- Limit caffeine after lunch
- Limit exposure to blue light 1 hour before sleeping
- Aiming to get a full 7 hours of sleep every night
Did you know 73% of Australians made new year’s resolutions…but only 8% manage to keep them? This doesn’t mean your new year’s resolutions for 2024 won’t come to reality – but success doesn’t come because of the date on a calendar, success comes when you have a plan, and you follow it!