It’s been a week into the New Year, how did it go for you? Chilling, I am sure. Obviously it’s peak winter and schools are off …. Jokes aside, how is 2022 coming along?

New Year always brings hopes for me — hopes for a new beginning, hopes for a year that is better than the last (which we all desperately want since the last two years), and hopes for doing things in a better way.

Somewhere deep in the past, I remember excitedly making New Year resolutions with friends — actually making a list and writing things down very artistically. It took a couple of New Years and lists to realise that nothing much got done on my list. It was just a yearly ritual that led

to nowhere — I probably did a few easy things and the meaningful changes never came along.

But it really shouldn’t be this way, that’s what I now believe. New Year resolutions are really another way of ‘goal setting’ that we all need, to remain focused on things that matter to us and making meaningful improvements.

“The New Year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.” — Melody Beattie

Why New Year’s resolutions fail?

The reasons that make New Year’s resolutions an exercise in futility are many.

One of the main ones is that they are generally very vague, like “I am going to have a healthy lifestyle,” or “I am going to study well”. These do not include specific tasks that you need to do, nor do they set any timeframe — leaving you a lot of scope to delay things for weeks and months, until the resolutions are forgotten. With no specific tasks that you have assigned yourself, even a half-hearted attempt at studying will count as follow up on your resolutions.

“A failure to take precise and deliberate action is the reason why so many New Year’s resolutions and other goals fail.” — Jordan Ring

Resolutions only work when they are specific, clear, have a timeframe, achievable, and, most of all, are meaningful to you. You can’t just decide to become an Olympic star at a track event if you don’t run even a mile at this stage. It is not realistic. And the next Olympic Games are still four years away.

So you need something more short-term and specific to motivate you — like you will start running a mile three times a week now, and increase it to five miles within three months. This will give you a clear roadmap to follow and remain motivated because it is doable.

Generic resolutions that you see others making, but have no real significance in terms of your needs, interests and goals, will not count for much and will not inspire you into action.

Another reason why you are not able to make and work on resolutions, or any serious plan, is that you do not believe in yourself. If you have tried something in the past and failed, you will have a voice in your head telling you that you can’t do it.

You need to tell that voice to shut up, and start telling yourself, “Yes, I can!”

“Why do New Year’s Resolutions fail? Mainly, because they are only a statement, or what we wish for in the coming year. There are usually no action plans, no deadlines, no backup plans. Sometimes they are unrealistic resolutions, with no other thought or plans beside the statement.” — Catherine Pulsifer

How to choose your resolutions

We are all different, and so are our situations and aspirations. So our resolutions should reflect who we are and what we want to be. Resolutions are actually goals, they are what we want to get or arrive at. They should result in some kind of improvement or addition in us, taking us from point A to B, with the desire to be better in something we already do or do something that can make us a better person.

“Use your New Year’s resolution or resolutions as a method to correct or improve upon that which leads to finishing a past goal.” — Byron Pulsifer

Sit back and reflect on what you like — list them down, even those interests that others think as useless, but you feel passionate about. You can include a lot of things in your resolutions list, but I suggest selecting a few. Having a long list of things you want to do in 2022 will mean that there will be many you can’t even look into and that will translate into a sense of failure, disheartening you.

Include some serious stuff and some fun things, so that you don’t throw away your list because it seems too daunting and hard. Include some easy, doable stuff that you are already planning to do, so that when you tick them off as ‘Done’, you can feel good about yourself.

Now look back on the recent experiences of the last couple of years, since the pandemic it made us live an isolated life like never before, and it made us rethink our priorities. Reflect on what things and experiences you will like to have more of in the coming year and what you want to avoid. List down, feelings, material things, experiences and encounters, visualise sights and vocalise your thoughts.

Learning from the lessons of the year gone by is as important as vowing to make the new one more satisfying.

By now you must have a better idea of what you want from the coming year and what went wrong in the last one, so pick up your pen and start writing away. You can take your time completing this list, or make it like an ongoing, diary format where you keep adding what comes to mind, since you can’t just be pumped up to take charge of your life at the start of the year — it’s a process that shouldn’t stop.

“Instead of trying to change your entire life in January, the simpler strategy is to adopt a 12-month plan where you’re making constant improvements.” — S. J. Scott

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