The resolution trap

Making new year resolutions is an age-old tradition, but sticking to them is a different story. To help you overcome the battle of maintaining your resolutions, Youth Inc provides some tips

Every year is a new year. Every year has a unique calendar. Every year has unique vents. No two years are ever identical. But there is one constant of every passing year: new year resolutions.

We make resolutions without fail. Blame it on the need to constantly improve and evolve. Blame it on the need to have fresh starts. Yet, somewhere down the following year, a few months after promising to change ourselves or something in our lives, we lose the will to do so. Complacency sets in and we run out of steam. And so, at the end of the year, we end up accomplishing little and making the same resolutions for the following year. That’s how we get stuck in ‘the resolution trap’.

Seeing through your resolutions is the only way to avoid the trap. How to accomplish that difficult task? We have some tips.

Making a resolution

Often times we fail to keep up a resolution because of how difficult and impractical we make it. In the longer run, a simple and easy-to-keep resolution will make much more difference than a complex and larger resolution.

  • Make it achievable. There’s no point in claiming you’ll scale Everest if you can’t yet scale the hillock in your back yard. An achievable resolution is one that you know you are capable of keeping and isn’t extreme. For instance, don’t say you will NEVER eat fatty foods again. We all cave in. Instead, decide to avoid fatty foods whenever possible.
  • Make it specific. One of the most common resolutions is losing weight. One of the most common failed resolutions is also losing weight. The reason for this is that people are not specific with how much weight they want to lose, so with no definite goal in sight, they opt out. Being specific – “I want to lose 10 kilos” or “I want to reduce 5 inches” – is more helpful than a generic “I want to lose weight”.
  • Make it progressive. Make resolutions that you can stagger over several weeks or months. They seem more achievable then. Going off the last example, if your resolution for the year is to lose weight – specifically, to lose 10 kilos – you can stagger it over a period of time. You could choose to lose a kilo every month, so in 10 months you would reach your goal. If you are that impatient, you can up the intensity with every passing month – 1 kilo in the first month, 2 the next, 4 the following month and so on – to reach your goal faster. But remember that few things can be accomplished overnight. The key is patience.
  • Make it simple. Don’t just address the bigger issues. Smaller goals are allowed too! In fact, smaller goals are easier to achieve and are more realistic.
  • Make it limited. Don’t put too many resolutions down. Would you be able to keep them all?

Before starting

  • Write down all your resolutions and create a schedule for achieving them. Give them all deadlines. Again, be realistic when you do this.
  • Tell your family and friends about your resolutions. They can help you achieve them. In fact, identify one friend or family member who can keep tabs on your progress and motivate you when you’re feeling low.
  • Make your resolutions public. Post your resolutions on Facebook, for example. When more people know what you want to achieve, the urge to accomplish your goals becomes stronger. Also, is there a less humiliating way to respond negatively to, “Hey, have you finished that art project you wanted to do? I’d love to see it!”?

Keeping resolutions

  • Set aside time every day to devote to achieving your resolutions. We all function on routine, so unless we make working out or sketching a portrait or learning to bake a part of our daily routine, it will become difficult to realise those goals.
  • Therefore, be consciously consistent with your new activity. Make it a point to engage in it every day. It is difficult, but not impossible.
  • Don’t be disheartened by setbacks. Some days you might miss out on keeping your resolution. There is no point in moping about it and then losing your motivation to continue. Recognise you’ve slipped and carry on boldly.
  • Track your progress with a diary or a chart. Note down your small successes. This is a great way to keep you motivated.
  • Reward yourself after you have achieved a considerable part of your goals. But don’t reward yourself in a counterproductive manner. Don’t eat a box of doughnuts if your goal is to lose weight. Don’t take a break from language classes and homework if you’ve decided to learn a new language. Instead, buy yourself new clothes or books.
  • Talk to your ‘resolution buddy’ every now and then on how you’re doing.
  • If you fall off the track, no worries! Start again by recommitting yourself to your goals for a day. If you are successful, increase the duration to two days, then three, then a whole week and so on, until it becomes part of your routine again.


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