New Year, New Life?

3 de January de 2022
4 min

New Year, New Life?

Going to the gym. Starting to read more books. Being less impulsive. Finishing your degree. Starting a new job. Losing weight. Gaining weight.

A Fresh Start

Every January 1st, in addition to the overindulgence that follows the end of the year, our planners and notebooks fill up with resolutions.

Resolutions about our physique, work, our way of being…

Resolutions and more resolutions that we take on eagerly at the beginning of each year.

But, what do most of these resolutions have in common?

In general, what most new year’s resolutions have in common, whether personal, physical, work-related, or otherwise, is the following… There’s a high likelihood they will end up in the drawer of unfulfilled goals.

If we think about these resolutions, we’ll see that most of them have to do with one thing: personal development.

Personal development involves changes in diet, physical appearance, our work life or context, or our relationships, whatever their nature may be.

The Three Corners of the Triangle

There are three things we need to consider to understand why new year’s resolutions often don’t work: SMART goals, the diffusion of responsibility, and the three Cs.

  • SMART goals: The first issue is the way we set new year’s resolutions. Generally, we tend to set goals that are not specific and are not operationalized, meaning they cannot be measured. And surprise… if it can’t be measured, it can’t be changed. For a goal to be useful and to actually serve a purpose, it has to meet a set of criteria.
    1. It must be specific, referring to something very concrete about our behavior.
    2. It must be measurable, that is, there must be some way to check if it is being accomplished.
    3. It has to be achievable. Realistic. Otherwise, far from helping, it will generate frustration.
    4. Relevant, something that has real importance.
    5. Time-bound. We need to set dates, days, and amounts. Not just “this year”… We need to schedule them.
  • The diffusion of responsibility: It’s important to realize that new year’s resolutions imply personal changes. Often, we believe that simply changing the year will close old chapters and open new ones as if turning the page of a book. In reality, the only difference is a change in the date. In fact, the majority of the responsibility for those resolutions lies with us, not the new year.
  • The three Cs: Commitment, consistency, and count. Commitment, because it’s not enough to convince ourselves that we want to achieve the resolution, it has to be something we promise ourselves almost daily. Consistency, because habits take an average of 21 days to establish by doing something every day. Imagine you move into a new apartment. The first few days, since there’s nowhere to put your keys, you lose them. You need almost a month of leaving the keys in the same spot every day to automate the habit. The same goes for new year’s resolutions. Finally, the C of count, since setting too many goals is often counterproductive. It’s better to start with one or two and progressively increase them as we achieve them.

From Idea to Action

We must not forget that a resolution may simply be an idea. But we need something more than an idea to achieve what we want. We need an action plan. Therefore, the ideal way to successfully achieve new year’s goals is what we’ve already mentioned: turning an idea into an action, following the SMART goals criteria, having us at the center of responsibility, and adhering to the rule of the three Cs.

Otherwise, it will just be another piece of wet paper among our goals set while we eat grapes and toast happily.