The countdown has ended and a new year is here. New Years and new opportunities in general have many people looking for ways to bring change and make their lives better. People will make New Year’s Resolutions and some people may just complete them. Then there are those who have good intentions but somehow life just gets in the way. If you are someone who gets struck in the side by one of life’s throws, take heart and know you’re not the only one.
This column is not to make anyone feel guilty for not making – or not keeping – resolutions. It’s a reminder that everyone is human. After all, “to err is human” according to Alexander Pope. Only eight percent of people who made a resolution actually kept their resolution, according to a study from University of Scranton compiled by Statistic Brain. Perhaps that’s why less than half of Americans (45% to be exact) continue to actually make resolutions, according to results compiled through Statistic Brain.
Does this mean you give up on making resolutions? Absolutely not. People tend to always strive for a better version of themselves and a new calendar year makes perfect sense for starting fresh. The notion of becoming a better version of ourselves is a motivator as many people have “a natural bent toward self-improvement,” according to John Duffy, Ph.D., clinical psychologist.
Perhaps instead of making resolutions year after year, you continue to build upon and improve your life goals. Call them what you want: resolutions, goals, improvements, etc. Personal development takes a lifetime which is why there’s a constant strive year after year. Abraham Maslow developed the hierarchy of needs with self-actualization at the top of the pyramid. Self-actualization is reaching one’s full potential and becoming capable of everything one is capable of.
Unless you are the ultimate narcissist, then there are more than likely life goals to achieve. So how does one go about setting, achieving and fulfilling their goals? First realize that if you don’t complete your life goals by Dec. 31, 2017, you are not a failure. It just means you need to keep on going because your life is not over yet and you still have a purpose on this earth. Below are more life hacks to keep the momentum moving:
Ask Why. Get intimate with your mind and soul and understand why you desire to change. When your goals have intentions and purpose, you’ll be closer to becoming a better you.
Adjust your mindset. Oftentimes, you are your own worst enemy. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. For example, instead of ‘I need to lose 20 pounds because I hate the way I look in my clothes’, try ‘I want to feel better about my health and live longer so I’ll need to adjust my diet and exercise program.’
Evaluate your schedule. This one requires time but if you really want to change your life, you’ll find time. Write down what’s important to you and ensure you spend time with who and what matters most.
Find an App for that. Technology makes it so easy to make life easier. There’s an app to track your exercise, what you eat, finances and even an app to make habits a, well, habit.
Ditch perfectionism. Nobody’s perfect and when you finally come to terms with that fact, relief comes. So what if you only fulfilled five out of 10 of your goals for 2017? That’s five goals more than last year. Setting perfectionist standards can paralyze you into not moving forward and being stuck in a pattern of not moving towards self-actualization.
Stop with the excuses. This one’s similar to ditching perfectionism. Excuses are also crippling to achieving your life goals. If your excuses centers on negativity and the faults of everyone else, then it’s time to look inside and come to terms with your insecurities or responsibilities.
Find a buddy or support group. Accountability partners help you remain liable with your goals. You can find accountability with a spouse, roommate, and friend, social or church group or through online fitness groups. The trick is to find that right person or group who motivates you while pushing you at the same time. The right accountability partner(s) depends on the individuals so if you go through a couple before finding your match, it’s ok. Don’t let discouragement deter you.
Finally, when the clock strikes midnight and another day and ultimately another year is over don’t get discouraged at the failures and mistakes. All the motivation and all the encouragement can only go so far. It’s up to the individual to determine a change of course.