Failing at your New Year resolutions already? Maybe it’s time for a different approach

Whether you call them New Year’s resolutions or just think about things you want to accomplish this year, January is often a time to set goals. But it can also be a time when we beat ourselves up – if these ambitious goals fall by the wayside and we “fail” by February.

Is it possible to actually set new goals? Or is there another approach so that we don’t end up feeling worse than before?

Why do you want this?

“The thing about goal setting is that it’s about making your life better, not creating another stick to hit yourself with – and it all starts with compassion,” says coach and podcaster Meg Kissack. Founder of The rebel awakeners.

“Every goal must be compassionate, flexible, and sustainable. You need to meet where you are and stop comparing yourself to what you think you “should” now.

“When setting goals, I recommend asking yourself three things,” says Kissack.

“Is this something you really want, or is it something you feel ‘should’ want? How can you do it in the most compassionate way possible? How can you make it sustainable? “

Drop the car

A big reason New Year goals “fail” is because we let ourselves be believed that it is all or nothing. We’re either on the wagon or we fell off. But life happens. Man gets tired. Someone is throwing a birthday party and you need some time off (we can only dream!).

“Remember, you are not aiming for massive perfect jumps. They target tiny imperfections, ”says Kissack.

“You have to accept that sometimes you fall off the car and that’s fine – that’s human, not a personal mistake.

“Sometimes we have to crash to remember why it was important to us in the first place, to give us the perspective we need to change it to make it work the way we work, or to reevaluate whether it’s the goal for us in the first place. “

Enjoy instant profits

Dr. Ian Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Loughborough University, says, “Immediate performance is much more motivating than delayed performance.

“To get a little geeky, motivation comes from benefits, not behavior. That is, if your advantages are in the future, there will be little motivation to do the behavior. But when the benefit is immediate, its motivational power is linked to the behavior. “

Imagine you want to start a new exercise program. If your goal is to achieve a certain physical change that feels far away in the future, your chances of sticking to this regimen are much lower than if you just focused on enjoying the exercise each week.

“A huge immediate benefit of activities like exercise is improved mental health,” says Taylor.

“However, this principle of motivation applies to all new behavior. Focus on the immediate benefit to stay motivated. “

Celebrate yourself

Build on that by celebrating your victories on the go – rather than fixating yourself on a daunting, distant goal – even if you’ve been scrolling in bed for a week without Instagram or running a mile without stopping.

“Celebrating your victories, no matter how small, is a proven way to create a more motivated mindset. Every time you give yourself credit, the pride you feel releases a small shot of dopamine, which makes us feel good, ”says mind and body trainer Kim Raine.

“We love to feel good and want to feel it more often, so there is a greater chance that we will repeat the action. That’s why checking off tasks on a list feels so good – it gives us a sense of achievement.

“Try to recognize every time you perform a task or action.”

‘Be’ your goals

“Motivation can be a bit abstract and difficult to describe at times, but we all have a robust kind of motivation within us. Our identity is one of the best motivations there is because it is very easy for all of us to express our identity, ”says Dr. Taylor.

“It is not difficult for someone who sees himself as a ‘trainer’ to do sports. Someone who identifies with being “healthy” finds it very easy to [eat healthily]. “

He suggests focusing on “being” our goals, not that goals are something we “do” or “have”. So if your goal is to write a novel or to paint more, consider yourself a writer or an artist.

“Think about who you want to ‘be’ and how to do it. After a while, these types of goals are much easier to maintain, ”says Taylor.

Does it have to feel that hard?

Are you trying to transform yourself into some kind of extremely disciplined ninja? If it feels too heavy, maybe it is.

“In most cases, people don’t like exertion,” says Dr. Taylor.

“A lot of people think that goals should be challenging. However, at the start of a new behavior or hobby, the opposite is true. Neuroscientific research tells us that the feeling of exertion is not very comfortable and people tend to avoid doing things that are not comfortable.

“When individuals have developed confidence and skills in their newly chosen behavior, this avoidance of exertion can be overridden. But in the beginning, it’s best to take it easy, ”adds Taylor.

“This principle can also be used when planning an activity. Make it as easy as possible for yourself by making all your decisions in advance. Pack your gear so you don’t have to find it, choose a location that is easy to get to. All of this minimizes the effort. “

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