The new year is here and that means, for most folks, it’s time to set New Year’s Resolutions. What better time to get your life in check after all? But, what if I told you that you might be better off ditching resolutions for 2019?
The new year is supposed to come with a clean slate and a wave of motivation, but that usually fades away as quickly as it comes. Though you might think that this will be the year you finally read one book a week, even though you haven’t picked one up in years, or wake up at 5 am every morning to work out, chances are, it probably won’t be. Instead, you’re probably setting yourself up for disappointment, by setting goals that are either unrealistic or simply unachievable.
Realistic, for example, is realizing that the new year, in the grand scheme of things, is about as significant as any other new day, week, month, etc. As much as we would like it to, January 1 won’t suddenly bless you with the solutions to all your problems nor the motivation to accomplish everything you’ve ever wanted. It comes down to a little bit of luck, timing but ultimately, yourself.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “It takes around 21days to form a habit”? It has been presented as a fact for decades, after Dr. Marxwell Maltz, an American plastic surgeon noticed that it will take his patients around 21 days to get used to their recent physical changes such as a new nose or even the loss of a limb. He later noticed that it will take himself a minimum of 21 days as well to adjust to changes and new behaviors. Which prompted him to talk about his experience. More than half a century later, and after a dozen books quoting him (often leaving out the “21 days minimum” part) his findings have been often misinterpreted and used to support the thinking that it takes a considerably short amount of time to form a new and long-lasting habit.
It’s not surprising that this idea has spread like wildfire. However, as you’ve probably noticed, it takes much longer to form a new habit. After all, habits, when they’ve become habits, are second nature and hard-wired into our brains. Which is why it would make more sense that it would take much longer than 21 days to break an old one or form a new one.
Now, before you throw out your planner and kiss your goals goodbye, try setting realistic goals this year, that at least put you one step closer to what you want. For example, instead of holding yourself accountable to that “one book a week”, aim for one a month, or even one per season. And instead of “waking up every morning at 5 am for a workout”, maybe try to find time for one or two workouts a week that will work with your schedule.
Resolve to make progress, as slow as it might be, rather than feeling defeated at the end of the year when your goal never came into fruition.
The clock turned to midnight, as it does every night, so take the pressure off yourself and don’t set an expiration date for your goals this year. Instead, work on a realistic plan that will take you to where you want to be (or at least one step closer). After all, as much as we plan, life happens as it wants to and there is no amount of planning that can avoid that.