5 Secrets for a New Year’s Resolution that LastsNone By Homaira Kabir
It’s that time of the year again. Amidst the shopping and the festivities, there is a New Year’s resolution gaining resolve somewhere in the back of your mind. “I really need to…” ends with all kinds of goals from weight loss and fitness to organization and improving finances.
In the meantime, you’re likely splurging on all of the above, awaiting the magical hour to undergo your metamorphosis. It’s our human need for novelty that makes us believe that a new year will be just the catalyst we need for lasting transformation.
Sadly, that's often not the case. Once the novelty wears off—in as little as a week into January—our motivation begins to dwindle bit by bit. A quarter of us can't stick with our resolutions for seven measly days, while almost half of us have given up by the end of the month. And yet, 20% of us do persist—not just past the initial week or the first month, but well into the third year of follow-up. What do these people do differently? And what can we learn from them so that this New Year’s resolution is one that lasts?
Research on Self-Determination Theory shows that feeling competent in achieving our goals is one of the biggest predictors of success. The most successful people set goals that are tied to their strengths and within their boundaries of competence. This means that although goals need to be challenging, they should not be so far beyond our competence that the mere anxiety of achieving them scares us off. Losing 50 pounds in 4 months is not going to get you far—other than leading to feelings of failure. Losing 10 pounds and keeping it off all year is a far more achievable goal that will make you feel good about yourself and build your competence towards more challenging goals.
Own Your Goal
The meaning we attribute to our goals is one of the key criteria that will keep us going well after the initial euphoria wears off. Such goals are called intrinsic goals—ones that are driven by our inherent human need for growth, connection or for making a difference in some way. Sadly, our goals are often the result of familial or societal expectations, even though we're often unaware of it. This doesn't necessarily mean that you let go of the goal of improving your finances. Just remember to connect it to a deeper desire—to provide a better life for your family or to move towards your professional vision.
Break It Down
New Year’s resolutions are rarely small tweaks in our lifestyle that result in subtle but long-term changes. They are more like the Herculean projects that are supposed to propel us into upward spirals of growth. However good our intentions, approaching something this enormous can be daunting unless we're able to work on it in small bites that we can handle. Organizing your garage is great, but unless you can break it down into 2-hour long we