Keeping New Year Resolutions Is Not Just About ‘Willpower’ – Here’s How To Keep It Real

Posted: January 8, 2018

Keeping new year resolutions is incredibly hard for most of us. But, we can get better at it. Here’s how!

January is that month of the year when we resolve to make our lives more meaningful by fulfilling our hitherto unachieved aspirations. I will lose 15 kgs in one year. I will learn how to play the guitar. I will spend more time with my kids. I will quit smoking. I will party less. I will study more…the list goes on. With all sincerity, the dreams and desires are listed out, confident that they will be realized in the New Year at least and then I will have a complete new look – a slimmer, smarter, confident and intelligent me. Life is good.

Unlike last year, this year I am more determined, better prepared and extremely committed towards my resolutions. I eagerly wait for the first of January, and then all will be well. Losing weight is the most common New Year resolution. No wonder, gym owners love the first month of the year as January has maximum enrolments. Come February and the crowds thin down a bit when reality strikes and the enthusiasm wanes. The more dedicated ones linger till March. After that, excuses galore. For the rest of the year, we are back to our old habits which we wish we could get rid of. Come December and the resolutions quietly resurface only to be made and broken all over again. It’s business as usual. According to studies, only 8% of the people keep their resolutions till the end of the year.




What is so elusive about keeping New Year Resolutions? Like fine grains of sand, the thoughtfully crafted resolutions slip from between the cracks in our fingers; the tighter we try to hold them, the faster they slip. Here are a few insights on the disappearance of New Year resolutions.

Keep it simple

The problem with most of us is that we want everything and that too instantly. No doubt, enthusiasm ignites the fire within but overenthusiasm douses the flame fully. The desire to bring a complete overhaul in our personality instead of focusing on one or two attributes is a greedy start to the New Year. In fact, keeping it simple and making it specific does the trick. It gives a direction to the goal at hand.

The resolution of ‘I want to be a good father’ is vague, instead, how about ‘I will spend more time with my children’ or even better would be ‘I will spend one hour after dinner every day with my children.’ The more specific the resolution, the higher is the probability that it would see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Slow and steady

Most of us want to lose weight and look fitter and prettier. It’s good to dream and aspire but one needs to be realistic; else it is likely to remain just that: a dream. You are the lethargic type and have never seen a gym from inside but after having been bulldozed by folks at home, you take an oath to hit the gym every day at 5 am for two hours, followed by an hour of brisk walking in the park. Accompanied by strict dieting, losing 2 kg in a month should be a cakewalk for you, your father sermonises. Sounds great to the ears but this resolution has slim chances of survival. “This is the mistake I always used to make. I wanted all at once. Now I go one step at a time,” says my friend Rashmi who resolved to lose weight. “Two years ago I weighed 85 kgs. I decided to dedicate forty five minutes to fitness daily along with some diet control. After two months, encouraged by the progress, I increased the gym timings to one hour and followed stricter diet control.” Two years later Rashmi weighs 70 kgs. Along with the slow and steady strategy, it is also wise to break the task into smaller chunks to make the target appear less daunting. “Losing 15 kgs looked intimidating but shedding 625 grams in a month didn’t”, beams Rashmi.

SMART resolutions

Whoever emphasized the significance of SMART (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Time bound) goals at work for professional success, the same holds good for resolutions – personal and professional. It is equally important to review the progress of resolutions after two or three months and reset your goals if needed. It will help you to be realistic rather than killing you with shock at the end of the year.

Resolutions are not a magic wand which will turn you prettier and slimmer in a jiffy. They need to be thought through and worked upon. “It is not the lack of determination but the inadequate planning and the inability to prioritize which are the show spoilers”, says counselor Ruchika Naidu. “Keeping new year resolutions is as much about strategic planning as about will power.”

They say, if you go public with your goals, you stay steadfast towards them to save face than for your own self.  Whatever the reason, if it works for you then what’s stopping you? Announce to the world, post it on social media, write them down somewhere, stick it on the fridge, tell your family. Sharing it with others will keep you on your toes. Better still, have a close confidant and entrust him/her with the job of enquiring about it every now and then. Seems absurd? Let it be. But choose your support system carefully. Share your ambitions only with those who you know will not pull you down.

No matter how determined you are about keeping new year resolutions, there will be some days when just like that, you don’t feel like reading a book or go for a morning walk. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s okay to skip your targets once in a while but beware if the ‘just like that’ syndrome strikes too often.

“The New Year is the time to look back and decide how best can the next year be lived. My 2018 resolution is to ‘Write more, read more and drink less whiskey. I am sure about the first two but the last one would be difficult to keep”, says author Kulpreet Yadav. “A resolution is a sacred promise to oneself but sometimes we might lose sight of them. I prefer to keep my resolutions open-ended which means I will try hard but if I am not able to fully follow it, I wouldn’t die of guilt. It’s still worth it if I achieve only half of my targets. Half is better than zero. Isn’t it?”

Interestingly, a majority of people who make resolutions know in their hearts that they wouldn’t be able to sustain it for more than a couple of months but still they have a list of resolutions every year, hoping things might be different in the coming year. Whatever it is, do make a resolution – it gives you a reality check of the current status and kindles hope in you that life could be made more fulfilling. It is up to you if you want to be amongst the 92% or the 8%! The choice is yours.

Top image via Unsplash

First published here.

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