2023 doesn’t have to follow the same patterns every other year has. Aim big, but give yourself a timeline and an environment you can thrive in so that your resolutions become part of a sustainable lifestyle and not just a month's phase. Nothing says January quite as much as the smell of excess hope in the air; the ambitious progress is at an all time high, and of course, the gyms are at their peak attendance. Ah yes, the era of New Year’s resolutions has fallen upon us once again.
We all know — either from personal experience or ongoing jokes — about the lack of longevity for New Year’s resolutions. Forget a whole year, if you can survive a whole month of following through with the goals you set, then you’re already an outlier compared to the rest of the population.
But, have we ever really stopped to think about why these resolutions are rarely seen all the way through? Perhaps what leads to these failures is the goals themselves, and not the people setting them.
Let’s be honest with ourselves here: It’s not at all pragmatic to assume that the second the clock hits midnight on Jan. 1, we will all of a sudden be able to up and change habits we have from the previous year. That kind of pressure we all put on ourselves is the real issue at hand — not our willpower.
In order to make New Year’s resolutions realistic for the entire year, we have to start aiming smaller (at least initially). But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set big goals for yourself, it just means that in order to reach those big goals, you have to let your “new” lifestyle develop at a comfortable rate rather than push yourself into one that’s not sustainable.
You wouldn’t run a marathon without ever having completed a 5k run, would you? View New Year’s resolutions the same. We have to build our way to them; the results we want won't come immediately. Pushing yourself a bit more day by day is where the most headway will be made.
And, what I think is most important to remember, is that your January of this year isn’t going to look like your December. It won’t look identical to anyone else’s either, and it shouldn’t. By December, your habits will have followed a natural progression so they will actually become a part of your daily routine, whereas at the start of the year, you’re just beginning your journey.
As with anything new that you introduce, it won’t be comfortable at first. It might feel unfamiliar, strange and outright wrong to change your lifestyle, but at no point should it feel unreasonable. If so, perhaps consider easing up on your expectations so it becomes more practical for you.
If your goal is to read more books this year, start off with a timeline you know will push you but still allow you to get that daily reading in.
If you aim to get more sleep, don’t attempt to go to bed one night five hours earlier than usual and assume you will continue. Instead, go to bed half an hour earlier at first.
If you desire to be more physically active, start by moving your body in a realistic way for you, rather than creating an intense workout routine you’ll have forgotten about in two weeks.