It’s become a bit of a tradition in modern times to make New Year’s Resolutions. Therefore, on New Year’s Eve, people think of changes they’d like to see in their life (e.g.: take up a hobby or a sport, eat healthier, get angry less, etc.) and vow to take steps in that direction the following year. At the same time, it’s also become a real life trope that New Year’s Resolutions are abandoned around January 2nd. If your resolution was to give up smoking, you light a cigarette. If you resolved to start exercising for 15 minutes three times a week, you realize you can’t make time for it. In short, people seem to agree that a New Year’s Resolution is something you make because you’re expected to, but it’s completely OK to abandon it within a few days because no one – including yourself – was expecting you to keep it anyway.
After the euphoria of New Year’s, daily life resumes, and daily life is not easy – we have to work, we have to pay bills and we have families and loved ones to care for. The thing is – all the people who accomplished something in this world also faced the problems of daily life. And, while you may think that there are some people who have it easier, we all have battles to fight.
Remember that a New Year’s Resolution is about what you think would improve your life. So, in a way, giving up a New Year’s Resolution is a bit like giving up on yourself. Of course, a resolution may not be easy to keep, but don’t forget that at the time you made it, you thought of what would be good for you. There is no recipe for how to keep resolutions, but here are a few tips that I hope will help.
Establish your own terms.
Think of one main resolution and then think of the steps that will allow you to keep it. No one will be able to tell you exactly what those steps are, so you need to figure them out yourself. For instance, my resolution is to be more disciplined about my writing, because my writing habits are currently rather erratic. For this purpose, I have decided to spend two hours every day on my writing – no less, and no more. If you are a writer, some will tell you that you should write a certain number of pages every day (say 3 or 5). However, this particular advice doesn’t work for me, and I became quite discouraged and more likely to procrastinate when I attempted to follow it. On the other hand, setting a time goal does work for me. In short, you are the only one who knows what works for you.
Make it feasible
Don’t choose a resolution that is out of your control, and don’t confuse a resolution with a wish. For instance, if you say “I want a new relationship next year,” that’s a wish, because the outcome is completely out of your control… Sure, there are things you can do – socialize more, go on more dates, but these things don’t guarantee anything. Or, you can say, “I will find a better job this year.” You can update your CV, apply for many jobs, and make more acquaintances in the field you’re interested in. You may or may not find a better job. Generally, try not to make your resolution something that can be influenced by other people. Stick to the things that you are able to control.
Incorporate it into your daily schedule
Think of your resolution as a project. The implementation process is always the hardest part. It’s easy to think of things, but actually doing them is a completely different manner. Remember that this is something you decided upon because you thought it would bring a good change into your life. It’s unlikely that things will change if you just think about it. You have to work to incorporate this change into your daily life.
Keep it in mind
Without a doubt, there will be moments when you feel discouraged. You’ll wonder if your efforts are even worth it. Remember that everyone feels that way at one point or another. It’s OK to take some time off to reevaluate things, but always keep in mind the change that you wanted to welcome into your life and come back to it with renewed strength.
You can also think of it as a video game. This New Year’s resolution is level one. At level one, there are tasks you have to complete in order to get a score that will allow you to move on to level two. If you work on your current resolution, by next year you will have accumulated enough experience points to allow you to graduate to the next level. Instead of, you know, making the same resolution and merely hoping that it will turn out differently. This is how lives change – in small but well-planned steps.
Anca Rotar is a Romanian-born writer, over-thinker and caffeine addict. She is the author of two books, Hidden Animals and Before It Sets You Free, both available from Amazon.com. Among her interests, which she finds it hard to shut up about, she counts fashion, yoga, city breaks and deadpan sarcasm. She is also currently studying Japanese, so wish her luck. You can sample bits of Anca’s creative writing here.