By Ted Miller
The start of a new year can often feel exciting as we visualize a new future for ourselves. Whether it’s trying a new fitness routine, changing your sleeping habits, or starting a new career prospect, the opportunities for self-improvement often feel endless. It is fun when we visualize a new upgraded version of ourselves as we move into the New Year, but it is important to be mindful of ensuring our goals are realistic and attainable.
New Year’s Resolutions – Helpful or Harmful?
For some people, setting lofty goals for the New Year can set them up for failure. Having ambitious goals for ourselves is fine, but it is important not to set ourselves up to attempt to achieve unrealistic results. When we set unrealistic goals for ourselves, we are more likely to become frustrated and discouraged when unable to achieve them. This can lead to feelings of failure and low self-esteem, which can negatively impact our mental health. Additionally, when we set overly ambitious goals, this can put excess pressure on ourselves to achieve them, leading to feelings of stress and anxiety, further negatively impacting our mental health.
There is some interesting data on New Year’s resolutions. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology shows that those who made a New Year’s resolution were 44% more likely to succeed in that goal than those who did not make a resolution but were interested in changing a problem later (Norcross et al, 2002). Another study, according to statisticbrain.com shows that only 9% of people achieve their goals, meaning that over 90% of all New Year’s resolutions fail.
So we know that they can be effective, and we also know that the majority of resolutions that are set do not come to fruition. So with this data in mind, what types of resolutions should we set for ourselves if we want the best chance at success and not experience the potential negative consequences of failing to live up to our goals?
Setting Ourselves Up for Success with Self-Concordant Goals
According to Tal Ben Shahar, a prominent figure in the field of positive psychology, the goals that we should aim to set for ourselves are “self-concordant goals,” which are consistent with our interests and values. This means focusing on goals for ourselves that interest us and make us feel good when we think about them instead of focusing on goals that we feel we “should” be focusing on, possibly due to societal or other external pressures.
For example, suppose your goal is to change your fitness routine. In that case, it is important to check in with yourself to see if this is a goal you are attempting to achieve for reasons that make you feel good and feel empowered instead of doing it for reasons you may think will appease others. Whenever our motivations come from within and are geared towards something we feel an intrinsic desire to achieve, we are more likely to succeed in them.
New Year’s Resolution Tips for Achievable Goal-Setting
So on top of making sure our goals are self-concordant, what are some additional things we can keep in mind to make our resolutions more manageable? Here are some additional tips to help you work towards realistic and attainable resolutions
1. Start small: Instead of setting big, overwhelming goals, start with smaller, more manageable ones.
2. Be specific: Set a specific goal, such as “I will start my nightly routine at 9:00 PM”.
3. Break it down: Break down your goals into smaller, more manageable steps.
4. Be realistic: Make sure your goals are achievable and realistic.
5. Be flexible: Be open to adjusting your goals as needed.
6. Have a plan: Create a plan of action to achieve your goals and stick to them.
7. Track your progress: Keep track of your progress and celebrate your accomplishments.
Achieving Your Goals, in the New Year and Beyond
If you are considering working towards a specific goal in 2023, remember to keep these tips in mind. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many goals or goals that are so large that they begin to stress you out. Also, remember to ask yourself if the goal you are setting is something that you genuinely desire and makes you feel good when you think about it or if you are doing it for reasons that aren’t fully aligned with your desires and interests.
O’Connor Professional Group’s compassionate team of professionals are here to support you in achieving your goals, from navigating a learning difference to mental health support, behavioral health support, and more. Contact us today to find out how we may be able to support you in achieving your goals.