New Year’s Resolutions are a self help cliche.
New Year’s Resolutions have the biggest reputation for not working out, despite being one of the most common goal setting methods.
If you want to invoke cynicism just say, “This is my New Year’s Resolution!”
So what do I recommend?
Well hint one is, keep all this in perspective.
I suspect that goals made as a New Year’s Resolution, are just as likely to not work out as any other goal. The difference is more likely to be that a resolution made at New Year’s is often commonly mentioned to others, and the “failure” is therefore more public.
It is also a goal setting moment that you remember, because of the association with the New Year. So the achievements, or lack of them, are more obvious too.
So I suspect New Year’s Resolutions should attract no more cynicism than goal setting generally.
It’s worth considering the alternative to hyped-up New Year’s Resolutions.
Most people don’t have an alternate way to DELIBERATELY plan their life. They don’t set time to review how things have gone, what they want to achieve, and how they can do things differently in future to improve.
What most people end up with is either a haphazard process, driven by what they just came across on TV, read in a book, or got told by a friend, or worse, they have a crisis-driven process where they get to a point where something gets so bad that they finally crack and set out on a new track.
Neither haphazard, nor crisis-driven, are ideal ways to change your life. They are better than no change at all if change is needed, and in fact most people come to me for counseling based on reaching a point of crisis.
Perhaps it would be better however if people came to me more on the basis of a New Year’s Resolution.
So to the third hint.
New Year’s Resolutions are fine if you take the learning one further step.
Sure, set your resolution(s). But as you do so also use this as a time to rate and seek to improve your overall ability to manage and design your life.
Reflect on any past New Year’s Resolutions, and check what the results have been. Base your expectations for the success of this year’s resolutions on your past results.
Work out how you might improve on whatever the results were.
Overall, use the New Year’s Resolutions themselves as a way of practicing and learning about what works, and doesn’t work, for you.
Then you can fail to achieve each and every one of your resolutions for the New Year, and still have success by learning what works better for you.
That skill will advantage you more and more for the rest of your life.
Oh and there is also the skill of tapping in to cynicism, and using a ‘negative’ emotion to your advantage. That’s also a good advantage to get from New Year’s Resolutions.
-Dr Martin Russell