This New Years, Resolve To Resolve Better.

Why Are New Years Resolutions So Hard?

I studied in a school that aggressively encouraged self-improvement and therefore, New Year’s Resolutions. Every year, after school reopened in January, they’d ask us what we had planned for the new year ahead. And every year, in true classroom fashion, it would turn out that a grand total of 3 students (out of 40) were the only ones with actual resolutions and the rest of us merely copied what the other person had said. Perhaps the only resolution related memory of mine that is stronger than our combined plagiarism, is the fact that no one succeeded. Like, no one. Those who vowed to come first continued to not come first, those who vowed to have calligraphic handwriting continued to produce notes that looked like marks left behind by a blind chicken dancing and those, like me, who wanted to be more ‘active’, continued to be potatoes.

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Strava, a social fitness app, recently did a study by analysing a whopping 31.5 million user actions on its app and concluded that that vigour and zest with which you decided that THIS WOULD BE THE YEAR you would get your dream body, run a marathon and become the CEO of the world at large fizzles out in exactly 12 days. Another study from 2012 shows that only 8% of all those who take resolutions actually make it to the finish line.

How To Stick to New Years Resolutions

Take it from someone who has been in the 92% bracket for most of her life – the key to making your new resolutions isn’t in what you’re resolving to do, but how you do it. I’ve found success by making small tweaks, like –

how to stick to New Years resolutions, New Years resolution, make better New Years resolutions, how to plan goals, how to achieve goals, vue45
Why does this look familiar… Photo: Universal Pictures, Bridget Jones’ Diary

Taking A Closer Look At Your Goals

Are you resolving to do something only because somebody else wants you to do it? Or because everyone else is doing it? Goals don’t work unless you feel strongly about them. In this age of Instagram and the kind of peer pressure that social scientists are still trying to come up with names for, you might feel the need for a resolution…but take some time to think it. If it’s not something you’re really interested in, you’re better off spending that time doing what you really love, even if it isn’t anything ‘new’.

Quantifying and Breaking Down Your Goals

If your resolution is to ‘lose weight’ or ‘get more sleep’, you’re setting yourself up for failure because your resolution is not specific. One of the primary requirements of effective goal setting is to be clearly define the place you want to be at the end of the year. Okay, you want to get more sleep. But how many more hours of sleep do you want? How many kilos do you want to lose? Writing that down is step 1. Step 2 is to break that down into achievable chunks over the course of the year. If you want to lose around 10-12kg this year, for example, you can break it down into smaller goals like, losing 2 kgs in January, 2kgs in February and so on and so forth. This is effective because smaller goals give you greater confidence (2 kgs is a lot less daunting than 12, for example) to achieve them. Once you’ve broken them down –

how to stick to New Years resolutions, New Years resolution, make better New Years resolutions, how to plan goals, how to achieve goals, vue45

Set Up An Action Plan

You’ve defined the what, the next step is to define the how. How do you plan to achieve what you want to achieve? Write down all the conceivable steps that you will have to take and break them down into actionable items. Keeping with our fitness goal – write down what it will take for you to achieve your goal weight. Once again, the key is to be specific. ‘Join a gym’ won’t put you in the 8%. ‘Go to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays’, will. Similarly, if it’s more sleep you’re after, ‘Sleep early’ won’t cut it. Your action item is to ‘Be in bed at 9.30 pm’. When you’re specific about something, you’re committing to it. But even these two steps aren’t as important as the last one on the list, which is –


…don’t allow your failure to give up on your goals! When it comes to hitting targets, perseverance is more valuable than perfection (and just like that I became a LinkedIn #thoughtleader). It’s okay to stumble and totally miss the mark a few times as long as you pick yourself back up and get back to routine. One way to keep yourself on track is to measure your progress. When you see how far you’ve come, you won’t let a small splotch affect the bigger picture.

And that’s about all the wisdom I have to share about New Year’s Resolutions! Do you make New Year’s resolutions? What are they? Tell us in the comments!

{Lavanya, who is the author of this article, is the manager, editor and errands boy at Vue45. If you’ve anything to say, do shoot her an email}

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