New Year, New You
As we approach a new year (and decade!), it is a wonderful time to reflect on the past year of your life and evaluate what you’d like to create less or more of going forward. Creating new year resolutions are a productive and positive way to set new goals for the upcoming year. There is often the preconception that new year resolutions won’t last past mid-April or May, when you find yourself back to old habits and ways... But thankfully, we are here to help you create achievable and meaningful resolutions for a healthier and happier you!
Begin with Your Values
The key to setting intentions that will last is to create ones that have meaning to you. By discovering and prioritizing your values, you can establish authentic new year resolutions in all aspects of your life.
The Barrett Values Centre breaks values down into four sections: individual, relationship, organizational, and societal.
Individual values represent the principles you live by and what you consider important for your self-evolution. Some examples of individual values include creativity, humility, and dedication.
Relationship values incorporate all the ways you relate to other people in your life – whether it be your friends, family, or colleagues. These values include kindness, openness, and caring.
Organizational values reflect how the larger organizations you are a part of, such as your company or soccer team, show up and operate in the world. This includes teamwork, respect, and productivity.
Societal values incorporate how you and the organizations you belong to relate to your society. These values include environmental awareness, sustainability, and impact.
Your values are the lenses through which you view your world. They are your personal truth. To start defining your core values, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is important to you? Family? Career? Good health? Creative self-expression? Giving back to others?
- When do you feel the most alive or satisfied?
- Think of three people who you admire. What qualities do they embody that you find admirable?
- What are you most proud of?
- If you could have any career, without worrying about money or other practical constraints, what would you do?
- When you’re reading news stories, what sort of story or behavior tends to inspire you?
- What are you grateful for?
- How do you want to be remembered?
Once you’ve answered the questions above, you can begin to divide your values into the four sections: individual, relationship, organizational, and societal.
Values help you create the future you want to experience. By getting to know what things hold the most significance to you, you can begin building a life that meets all of your needs and desires. Defining your personal values helps you create the ultimate roadmap to setting authentic resolutions.
Setting Attainable Goals
People often have a difficult time accomplishing their new year resolutions because they set rigid, lofty, and unattainable goals. The key to setting resolutions that you will accomplish is to start small. Remember, change is hard, and we are, by nature, creatures of habit. On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior we adopt becomes automatic!
Instead of setting rigid and restrictive goals, set achievable and realistic ones. SMART is an acronym that you can use to guide your goal setting.
To make sure your goals are clear, each one should meet the following criteria:
- Specific (definable)
- Measurable (meaningful)
- Achievable (attainable)
- Relevant (results-based)
- Time-bound (time-sensitive)
For more information on each step of the SMART goal-setting guide, click here.
Throughout the first weeks and months of the new year, it is important to check in with yourself regularly and revisit your intentions. Perhaps you find that your original goals were slightly unrealistic. If this is the case, adjust your goals as you see fit. If going to the gym three days a week is not happening, change three days to two or one, and give your updated goal a try!
None of the resolutions you set are concrete. It’s more important to set realistic goals that you can achieve over time versus setting unrealistic goals that cause you to fall short.
Another key to achieving your new year's resolutions is to celebrate small successes. This includes setting goals that are focused on the journey, not the destination.
For example, “I will save $800 a month towards the down payment of a new home,” is more centered on your everyday journey than stating, “I will buy a new house.” As each month goes by and you save said amount, reward yourself with new music, your favorite dinner, or a night out with friends. It’s important to acknowledge the small accomplishments that lead to greater resolutions.
One way to track your progress and stay encouraged along the way is to keep a weekly or monthly journal of how well you are accomplishing your goals.
In your journal, break down your goals into the following categories: financial, career, health, fun, relationships, personal, and community. Under each category, list your goals and beside each one, the allotted time it will take for you to accomplish that goal.
Think and Grow Rich author, Napoleon Hill, states that the starting point of all individual achievements is definiteness of purpose. Only by establishing a specific plan can you follow the steps to accomplishing that plan (which he says can be changed and rearranged at any point). It’s not important that your plan is sound, but it is important that you have a specific plan—or in this case, goal.
The more specific you make your goals, the more actionable they are to attain.
“I will lose ten pounds” is a great goal…But how? The more detailed you are with your goal-setting, the easier it is to stay focused on the concrete things you need to do in order to succeed. A more specific way to frame the goal above is to say, “I will go for a run three times a week, eat veggies regularly, and cut down on my consumption of refined sugar.”
As you set your intentions, it is important to write them down. By writing down your goals you are affirming and solidifying them beyond the confines of your mind. Journaling can be a powerful tool to help you reflect honestly along the way.
Studies show that when people share their resolutions with one another, they are more likely to accomplish them. Sharing your goals with a friend can offer you a beneficial boost to get out and accomplish them! You could have regular talks with your bestie to chat about your progress and ask for their support and encouragement, wherever needed.
Be Gentle with Your Journey
Although we are told that life moves in a linear fashion, the natural world, which we are inevitably apart of, is far from linear. Think of a child, who skips freely, tugging our arms in all directions. Or a tree trunk that grows both up and down, as twisted branches and roots. Or the blood that flows through our veins in a spiral fashion, pumping to all parts of our body.
Nothing in our natural world is linear. It is vital to remember this as you set your new year resolutions.
Some days you might feel much farther away from achievement than other days. Success does not occur overnight. Part of the journey is to trust that if we are doing our part on a daily basis, then we are getting closer to meeting our goals.
Your resolutions are intended to support you and your positive growth. If you feel that any of the resolutions you set are fear-based or shame-based, ask yourself “Is this resolution loving and kind?” As long as you believe you can whole-heartedly accomplish your goals, you absolutely will! The journey requires patience, but as long as you learn to be your biggest advocate and supporter, you are on a path to success.
The bottom line is: your new year intentions are for YOU. As you discover your personal values and set attainable goals, be gentle with your unfolding.
In the words of the great Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”