Avoiding Common New Year’s Resolution Pitfalls

December 28, 2023
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As the clock strikes midnight and confetti fills the air, we welcome the New Year with a burst of enthusiasm and a list of resolutions that promise a better, brighter version of ourselves. Yet, as the weeks roll on, many find themselves entangled in the common pitfalls of abandoned resolutions. This year, let’s break the cycle and make our resolutions stick by understanding the difference between resolutions and goals, finding the balance between challenge and feasibility, creating a strategic plan, and journaling our journey for lasting success.

Resolutions vs. Goals: Know the Difference

Resolutions and goals tend to be interchanged without even realizing it. If you’re anything like us your resolutions could end up looking like a bullet point list of general ideas along with specific achievements. So what is the difference?

Resolutions: Often viewed as broad intentions, resolutions are the overarching themes or principles you wish to incorporate into your life. For example, “Be more positive” or “Practice gratitude.”

Goals: Goals are specific, measurable, and time-bound actions designed to help you achieve a particular outcome. Unlike resolutions, goals are concrete and provide a clear roadmap for success. For instance, “Exercise for 30 minutes, three times a week” or “Save $1000 by the end of the year.”

Starting at the top with your overall resolutions and later developing specific goals that can grow with your progress will not only help with your mental stamina, but allow you to stay organized and measure your growth.

resolution balancing

Balancing Challenge and Feasibility

One common pitfall is setting overly ambitious resolutions and goals that, while admirable, may set you up for failure. Strive for a balance between challenging yourself and establishing achievable milestones. Instead of aiming to never purchase that decadent coffee from the irresistibly cozy cafe up the corner, consider knocking it down to half your usual purchases. This allows for personal growth without overwhelming yourself.

Create a Strategic Plan

A well-thought-out plan can turn resolutions into achievable goals. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a strategic plan for your New Year’s resolutions:

1. Define Your Resolutions:

Start by clearly defining your resolutions. What does success look like in each area? Be specific about the changes you want to make (like being more mindful about delightful hot beverage purchases).

2. Break It Down:

Divide each resolution into smaller, manageable goals. If your resolution is to exercise more, break it down into specific activities and set achievable targets (maybe do a couple squats each time you reach the bottom of the stairs).

3. Set Checkpoints:

Establish checkpoints along the way to monitor your progress. Regularly assess how well you’re sticking to your plan and adjust if needed (remember that relief of dying in your favorite video game after you just passed a checkpoint?). 

4. Mini Rewards:

Integrate mini rewards into your plan to celebrate small victories. Whether it’s treating yourself to a favorite meal or taking a day off, these rewards serve as positive reinforcements (I personally like a gummy bear after every page I read in a new book).

5. Flexibility Matters:

Life is unpredictable, and circumstances change. Be flexible and adjust your plan accordingly. The key is to stay committed, not rigid (the more we love ourselves and give grace the more successful we will be).

Resolution journaling

Journaling Your Journey

Journaling serves as a powerful tool for self-reflection and tracking your progress. With all the elaborate journals and printable inserts out there, it can be a fun activity to add to your routine! Here’s how you can leverage journaling for different types of resolutions:

1. Quantifiable Resolutions:

For resolutions like weight loss or financial savings, document your progress regularly. Note the milestones reached, setbacks faced, and strategies that worked. This tangible record will motivate you to keep pushing forward.

2. Emotional or Behavioral Resolutions:

For resolutions related to personal growth or habits, document your thoughts and emotions. Reflect on the challenges you’ve overcome and the moments of success. Use your journal as a safe space to explore your journey.

3. Appreciation and Micro-Joys:

Journaling helps cultivate gratitude. Each day, jot down moments of appreciation and micro-joys. Whether it’s a warm cup of coffee or a heartfelt conversation, these small victories contribute to the larger tapestry of your resolutions.

Here We Come 2024

Embarking on a journey of self-improvement through New Year’s resolutions is a commendable endeavor. However, the path to success requires a strategic approach. Remember, it’s not about the destination but the journey. Celebrate every step forward, learn from setbacks, and keep moving towards the best version of yourself. Here’s to a year filled with purpose, progress, and the fulfillment of your resolutions!

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