Did you know an estimated 73% of Australians make New Years Resolutions every year? Can you guess how many keep them?
Studies have found that less than 20% of people actually stick to their New Years Resolutions. The whole process has been broken down, analysed, psychoanalysed, improved and changed by millions of experts. It’s all very well for people to say ‘Don’t set resolutions this year’ , or launch campaigns like the Australian Institute of Managements ‘This Year I Will,’ but at the end of the day, is any of it making a difference?
There is a wealth of knowledge on how to set goals, some of which is definitely useful. At Veretis we are big supporters of the SMART goal system – that is, set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
Setting specific and measurable goals means you can tick them off as you achieve them – instead of ‘this year I will eat healthier’, try something like ‘this year I will swap my morning croissant for a fruit salad at least 3 times a week.’ Is this realistic? Maybe not – I do love my morning croissant. But setting these goals gives you something to aim for, and if you do actually achieve them, this is proven to increase self esteem, and subsequent performance.
However, one of the somewhat unexplored areas of New Years resolutions is how to manage setbacks.
Have you ever failed your New Years resolution? I know I have.
Performance psychology aims to induce a state of ‘thriving’. Thriving is defined as a balance between performance (following meaningful pursuits) and well-being (mental, physical and emotional health).
Failing a New Years resolution challenges both of these dimensions. You might feel like your performance is derailed and your well-being can suffer a result.
So what do I do?
The key to making (and keeping!) meaningful New Years resolutions is simple – it requires you to move past these setbacks. A good example is if you maybe pledged to quite smoking, but had a couple of drinks one night and ended up having a smoke. Another could be if you committed to going to the gym 4 times a week but slept in and missed your 4th day.
Should you give up your whole resolution because you slipped up once?
The answer may seem fairly obvious. And yet, the number of people who let one slip up justify throwing their resolution away is huge.
The key is developing and implementing resilience skills. Take the time to acknowledge your setback, why it happened, and how to prevent it. Did you smoke because you were drunk? Did you miss the gym because you slept through your alarm? Or, did you just really not feel like going to the gym at 6am before a whole day of work?
Make sure to be kind to yourself as well. There is no point in fixing the performance side of things, and exacerbating problems with the well-being side. If you didn’t feel like the gym then you didn’t – there is no point in beating yourself up about it. But, next time that you’re lying in bed as your alarm goes off thinking how much you don’t want to go, try and remember how bad you felt when you missed it last week. Use it as motivation to get up, and then reflect on the achievement you felt after you went!
And… make sure to check in!
Use this balance of performance and well-being to drive your resolutions and enter the ‘thriving’ zone. Also make it a point to revisit your goals quarterly – you do this in business, so why not for yourself?
Track your progress, mark successes and areas for improvement, and figure out strategies to achieve this. You don’t have to write a full report – even thinking about it on the bus works! Taking time to reflect on your achievements so far is the first step, and will naturally drive you to further improvement. At the end of the year you can look back, see what you’ve achieved and where you can go from here for 2021. After all, growth and success is a continual process.
And who knows – we could be living on Mars by 2022. But we will be setting and achieving some awesome New Years Resolutions while we’re up there!