Do we really need New Year Resolutions?

If you already know where you're heading, why do you need a list for that?

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Each December I find myself engaged (sometimes in a frenetic way), determining what my New Year Resolutions will be.
The first thing I do is go back to the last year’s list and tick all those that have been achieved. Most of the times the result is somewhere between “ok” and “satisfying” and if there are a few non-kept resolutions, I just convince myself that those were the “substitute” ones, the ones that would just bring some extra flavour to the year’s achievement.
Second step is to figure out what I want for the following year. This December, however, making my New Year Resolution list is somewhat different. For some strange reason, I keep asking myself “If you already know where you’re heading, why do you need a list“?

WHY we need goals and resolutions.

Because when we have goals:

  • We feel we are evolving, changing, becoming better versions of ourselves.
  • We need structure, rules and lists to remind us of what’s right and what’s wrong.
  • We feel safer when we are disciplined; it feels like things are under control (extra emphasis on “feels like”).
  • We have something to anticipate: our future-self is always supposed to be smarter and more successful.
  • We are proud of ourselves when we achieve them.
  • We like to be challenged and step out of our comfort zone.

Are goals enough?

I understand that we need goals for all these reasons. But is this a good reason in order to keep us building lists with goals and resolutions, and torturing ourselves with unreachable targets and extremely high expectations?
​Take a look at your New Years Resolutions last year: Were all the points in the list there relevant to your priorities? Did you WANT to achieve them or you felt you HAD TO?

After the Procrastination course has finished, I noticed a significant change in the participants’ mindset. They had goals before the course, they continued having goals after the course. However, the difference was in how they saw their goals afterwards. 

And the difference is called Value and Focus.

Let’s use some examples to make it more specific:

  • If my New Year Resolution is to lose 10 kilos, and I don’t know WHY I am choosing this as a goal (only because I say so the last 5 years), then this is bound to fail.
  • If my New Year Resolution is to find more friends, but this doesn’t resonate with who I am and with my values, then I will soon drop it and at the same time I will feel very bad about myself.

We need goals. But not some random goals.

What we need is to know:
1. what we consider important in life (values)
2. what our priority will be next (focus)

Back to our examples:

  • If what I consider important in life (values) is Health and my focus is to create healthy habits in my life, then losing 10 kilos is a part of a big-picture goal, and not a goal itself.
  • ​If what I consider important in life (values) is Deep and Real Connections with people of common values, then I will not try to get another hundred people in my network for the sake of socializing, but I will try to make the most out of the relationships that I already have and they fulfill my social life already.

In a nutshell.

Say NO to:

  • in-between goals; goals which are not “no”, but they don’t feel as a “yes” either.
  • tasks and goals that don’t have a home, they don’t belong to a bigger goal
  • goals and resolutions which don’t add meaning and value to my life

Say YES to New Year Resolutions if :

  • they are part of a big plan
  • they are connected to one or more of my life values
  • they thrill you, they excite you, they are YOU!

What if this year we change the habit? Instead of compiling a list of “must-do’s” and “should’s”, let’s ask ourselves:

  • If we know where we are heading at, why do we need to write it down? Why do we need it written, if the change has already started happening?
  • Are we writing down things that are important to us or are we trying to make ourselves more important by writing down as many things as possible?
  • Can we figure out first what our top-3 values in life are, pick one area that needs change or more effort and then focus on the next step to make it happen?
  • Last but not least, who are we going to be when we fulfill this goal? How happy and in peace we will be with the final result?

Sounds like a good plan for me. 😉

​Happy holidays to all! 

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