It’s that time of year again, dears—the ringing in of the New Year! For many people, the New Year marks a time for a fresh start, a “clean slate,” and the opportunity to make some changes in the days to come. But how often do we find ourselves extremely motivated and eager at the idea of this venture, but struggle to carry out these changes on a consistent basis, let alone for very long?
I call this the “New Year’s Resolution Syndrome” (OK, so it’s not TRULY an official name, but let me explain!).
We tend to see the New Year in the way that I just described above. While this view is not false or negative, it does not take into account the HOW factor: how we will plan to maintain our new positive habits or new perspectives once the luster of the “New Year” wears off. We become giddy with idea of all the bright and shiny new habits we can begin to form, and we look at the year as a whole while setting monumental (and oftentimes overly lofty) goals for ourselves. And once the sparkle wears off, it can leave us feeling unmotivated and defeated. We’ve all seen this before—how great we are doing in January! And then once the middle of February rolls around…we struggle, start to fall off of the “resolutions horse,” and lose sight of what we set out to do in the first place.
This happens because we can unintentionally set ourselves up for a few common mishaps:
- Setting a goal without breaking down the steps of how we will go about achieving it
- Setting large goals without breaking down smaller goal “milestones” in order to keep us on track
- Seeing the “big picture” without seeing the various components of the “journey”
- Using “New Year’s Resolution” time as the only time we set goals for ourselves
- Not focusing enough on the “why” behind our goal
We tend to do these things without even realizing—because goal-setting is positive, right? What we tend to overlook is the fact that sometimes we set goals in which we actually inhibit ourselves instead of empower ourselves. Goal-setting is a tricky science, but luckily there are positive methods for goal-setting that have the power to empower, increasing the likelihood of sticking to goals, which makes change more likely to be successful.
Let’s bust through some of these goal-setting myths that tend to center around New Year’s Resolutions:
- Setting a goal without breaking down the steps of how we will go about achieving it. This tends to happen when we become very excited around New Year’s, but what we fail to do is further examine the HOW factor. While I’m definitely not knocking enthusiasm, the HOW is equally as important.
Instead, try this: Remember to ask yourself, “Do I know what it will take to work toward this goal? What other changes might I need to make as a result of this intended change? How will I fit creating these habits into my schedule?” It may be helpful to write these down as they are important factors of goal success! Remembering the HOW will aid the goal into coming into fruition.
- Setting large goals without breaking down smaller goal “milestones” in order to keep us on track. While I agree with the statement that you need to have a clear idea of where you are going in order to be able to guide yourself toward your goal destination, when we forget to keep track of the mile-markers along the way, we sometimes veer off of our goal path and into a ditch of disaster! Focusing only on the end of the goal (or the completion state of the goal) will not be enough.
Instead, try this: Think of your goal-setting process as creating a roadmap. Just like on road trips, you have to plan to make those necessary stops along the way in addition to your final destination. Breaking down your goal destination into smaller steps helps your goal seem more manageable. It will also prompt action in order to reach smaller steps that compile into your goal. This method helps keep the motivation going, and gives you opportunities to celebrate the smaller successes in order to keep you on track and keep the motivation flowing (even when the New Year’s hype wears off)!
- Seeing the “big picture” without seeing various components of the “journey.” This is very similar to the points above. When we only have our “end point” in sight, the journey or the smaller successes can be overlooked, and we tend to miss out on the enjoyment of working toward our goals.
Instead, try this: Don’t allow yourself to miss out on the blessings that are in the journey! While it is a wonderful feeling to accomplish the end stage of your goals, there is beauty in the transitions, the growth, and the journey. Allow yourself to embrace the steps along the way, and reflect on the changes you are not only seeing but feeling as a result of all your hard work. Don’t forget to praise yourself for the smaller victories!
- Using “New Year’s Resolution” time as the only time we set goals for ourselves. Out of all of these goal-setting myths, this one may be the most ironic. It passes under our radar because we view goal-setting in general as positive. However, when we center on New Year’s as the only (or most monumental) time for goal-setting, we place ourselves in a situation that is hard to live up to. In addition, once the hype wears off, so can our goal-work and motivation.
Instead, try this: Try making a habit of employing goal-setting at various times during the year. This can be on a monthly, or even weekly, basis. In this sense, we create a habit and (just as importantly) a mindset of goal-setting that can carry through the entire year. In utilizing this technique, we create more opportunities for success, constant reflection, and re-evaluation of our mindset and habits, along with opportunities to see our work pay off and our motivation to hold steady. Don’t be afraid to scale back the “New Year’s Resolutions” to monthly goal guideposts in order to further prompt your growth and dedication!
- Not focusing enough on the “why” behind our goal. It’s difficult to stay motivated, energized, and dedicated toward a cause unless we know the purpose behind our activity. We tend to make our main motivator behind setting New Year’s Resolutions as “Because it’s the New Year! I want a fresh start. That’s what you do at this time of year.” When that is our largest motivation for our goals, we struggle to keep those as priorities and tend to not stay on track for very long.
Instead, try this: Firmly establish your “why” behind your goals. Explore goal options that you have a personal tie to, something that tugs at the inner part of you. Challenge yourself to find inner motivation toward your goals that goes beyond the specific time of the year. These goals will speak so much more to us and pull us toward action if we feel personally and emotionally connected to our “why” factor.
While the New Year is an excellent time to think about new beginnings, opportunities, and all the blessings God has for us, it doesn’t have to end around mid-February! We were made for more. Busting through the “myths” of goal-setting and employing techniques that aid in consistent growth and motivation have the power to give us the consistency that we crave. Now get ready, get set, get going! The Lord’s richest blessings on all you seek in His name.