Each year, that dreaded question niggles at the back of our minds; “What are your new year’s resolutions?” Every year, I distract myself from it until it becomes too loud, and shout back “FINE I’ll lose weight/be more grateful/eat more avocado”. And guess what? Every year, I fail.
I think I may have found a different solution for this year. Set no resolutions right? Well, no. Not exactly…
Don’t set your sights too high
The more we work at something, the greater the achievement. That’s the idealistic view. We can all set grand goals that will change our lives. Perhaps you want to lose 5 stone, give up smoking, or pay off your debts.
But these optimistic targets may actually be feeding into the failure. What if the greater the goal, the more we set ourselves up to fail? This leads to the suggestion that perhaps we need to set small targets that are actually within reach. That will avoid the cycle of doom taking shape…
The cycle of doom?
It sounds a lot more morbid than it is. (No wonder one of my resolutions is to be more positive). To me, the cycle of doom is created in the playing out of want vs. practicality. We want to make a massive change to our lives. But how practical is this to do?
If we set over-exaggerated targets, we will likely never reach them, never experience the feeling of accomplishment, and will therefore feel the need to set even more drastic targets. Lo and behold, the cycle of doom.
The more we aim to do something simply impractical, the further it vanishes from sight – along with the sense of achievement that is vital for maintaining healthy habits.
Take this example…
Perhaps you’ve told yourself you will give up smoking completely by next year. This idealistic view may be kick-started by intense motivation, but then human imperfection kicks in. You have a hard day at the office, your inner demons won’t leave you alone and you accidentally buy a pack of twenty.
These little slip-ups have a much harsher impact on the brain if they are part of a much larger ideal, simply because they do not live up to your grand plan. Cue the cycle of doom.
Reassess your resolutions
Such situations as the above can be minimised by setting realistic targets instead.
Think about it: you are trying to give up something you are either addicted to, need, or like far too much. Therefore, you know that you it will be hard to stop, reduce or change. Instantly cutting something out of your life or making a sudden change will probably lead to a greater sense of failure, unless you are seriously gifted when it comes to stubbornness and commitment.
Smaller changes will have a more positive impact on your achievement. Those that are obtainable are those that should be worked on. Make changes gradually and be kind to yourself. But most importantly, remember that everyone has bad days.