How to Make (Not Break!) New Year’s Resolutions
January 4, 2022 | Lifestyle
From organizing drawers and getting better sleep to starting a new hobby and traveling more, it seems there is no shortage of ideas for New Year’s resolutions. Research in positive psychology has shown that we can tap into our full potential when imagining future possibilities.
As many of us are still decompressing from the previous year so it’s okay to take January to ponder what your New Year’s resolutions look like for the upcoming year. In fact, it might be time to rethink the concept altogether.
We’ve got some ideas on how to blend traditional New Year’s resolutions with the most recent research and trends on how to successfully set and maintain your goals throughout the year.
A Short History of New Year’s Resolutions
The custom of making New Year’s Resolutions has been around for thousands of years, so it’s not likely to go away any time soon. The ancient Romans established January 1st as the beginning of the new year after the reform-minded emperor Julius Caesar changed the calendar.
January had special significance for the Romans. Believing that Janus (the month’s namesake) was able to look back into the previous year and into the year ahead. For the Romans, sacrifices and promises were made to the deity for good conduct in the coming year.
Modern resolutions are often health-focused, driven by the indulgences from Halloween through Christmas. Additionally, the symbology of a New Year invites us to wipe the slate clean and start anew.
We’re Changing How We Make New Year’s Resolutions
According to the polling firm YouGov, in 2019 and before the pandemic, the most common resolutions we were making were the obvious ones: exercising more, eating healthier, saving money, and losing weight. These all sound familiar, right? Most likely, you or maybe even someone you know makes one or more of these resolutions every year.
However, there’s been a shift in what Americans find important in both our day-to-day lives and our futures. New Year’s resolutions evolved based on a more recent poll by YouGov.
Some of America’s most popular New Year’s Resolutions are more life-affirming:
- Personal improvement or happiness
- Losing weight
- Career or new job goals
- Financial goals
- Improving relationships
- Traveling or moving
Personal improvement and happiness may mean different things to different people. Still, it certainly sounds more meaningful than the generic “losing weight” or “exercising more.”
Are these more self-care-oriented goals possible due to the fast-growing rise in social media influencers promoting the power of self-care, happiness, and spiritual growth?
Could these new trends in New Year’s resolutions be inspired by two years of a worldwide pandemic and lockdowns forcing us to do a deeper level of self-reflection? Maybe it’s a combination of both.
How to Make New Year’s Resolutions for Analytical Thinkers
What will help you stick to your new goals is to set S.M.A.R.T. goals: This acronym stands for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.” If your goals are ambiguous, there will be too much wiggle room for excuses and, ultimately, failure.
Specific: A vague resolution like “lose weight” is less likely to succeed. Moreover, using words like “lose” or “stop” are the opposite of positive thinking. Instead, describe the why’s and how’s behind living a healthy lifestyle. Another example is if you plan to start running more, sign up for a 5K and start training, which is much more effective.
Measurable: Log your progress into a journal or make frequent notes on your phone. Several apps like the Fabulous habit-builder from Duke University are designed to help you track newly forming behaviors and help you track your progress.
Achievable: It’s okay to include small steps towards larger goals like starting with 10-minutes of stretching that could lead to 30-minutes of yoga every morning. In other words, try not to take too big a step too fast. Work up to your big stretch goals.
Relevant: Make goals that really matter to you. It’s easy to get caught up in what everybody else is doing. Still, by personalizing your goals, you’ll be more likely to succeed. By gradually changing the structure of your life, you’re setting yourself up with the best chance of success.
Time-bound: The old way of setting resolutions then forgetting about them is one reason so many people give up. Instead, give yourself permission to adjust goals as needed throughout the year. Structure the year into quarters and check in on your progress.
New Year’s Resolution Strategies for Procrastinators
Research suggests the best chance for success is to start a few weeks before or a week or so after January 1st. This is great news if you’re a procrastinator, right? Seriously though, there are several reasons for this advice.
You may be on vacation, entertaining family and friends, or off your regular routine for some other reason. So use the month of January to get into your daily rhythm again and create and visualize your goals for the year ahead.
Once again, experts suggest starting by building one small habit at a time, like making your bed every morning. Do this before you grab your phone and if possible, stay off social media until you’ve done some form of a self-care routine.
Another way to help you stay on track is to prepare your work and play to-do-list for the day and visualize positive outcomes. Lastly, buy a notebook and write down three things you’re grateful for daily. According to research practicing gratitude is one of the most powerful ways we can change our mindsets.
The Art of Growing as a Person Involves Goals and Habits
No matter what your style or approach to making resolutions or your chosen path for the year ahead, just keep in mind that the art of growing as a person involves creating goals and making new habits.
Just because New Year’s Resolutions are a social phenomenon, it doesn’t mean you have to subscribe to them. However, any type of self-reflection and goals setting exercise offers an excellent way to take stock of our lives and dig a little deeper to understand our place in the world.
Here are three few questions to get you started on your journey:
- What are your signature strengths?
- What are your core values/virtues?
- What will you make happen in the coming year that will take you closer to the fulfillment you have defined as meaningful to you?
No matter your style, setting realistic goals can make a tangible and positive impact in the upcoming year. Of course, one should also dare to dream. The New Year is a great time for new perspectives, so best of luck and Happy New Year!
Metro Self Storage Wishes You a Happy New Year!
If one of your goals this year is to travel more or move to a new home, Metro Self Storage can help. Our friendly storage teams would love to hear about your plans for the New Year and help you find the right storage solution to meet your needs.
Easy online bill pay options mean you can be anywhere in the world and manage the safekeeping of your belongings.