Dr. Rijusmita Sarma
(The writer is a counselling psychologist.
Can be reached at 8638716076
New Year’s Eve and resolutions go hand in hand. Very often, we make resolutions as the New Year dawns upon us. But maintaining consistency becomes challenging most of the time, and we tend to give up on the resolutions. The next year, we again make resolutions, but only to cease working on them. A study concluded that 80 percent of New Year resolutions are forgotten by February. But figuring out the common challenges that make sticking to New Year’s resolutions difficult might be helpful.
Some common hurdles are discussed further
1. Fallacies in goal setting: There has to be a goal if there has to be a resolution. A goal to be pursued is an integral part of a resolution. Therefore, let’s proceed with discussing some common fallacies in goal-setting.
2. Having too many goals: It is advisable to have a small number of goals instead of trying to bring about changes in multiple aspects of life at once, which might be overwhelming. But breaking down a larger goal into smaller steps is completely fine.
3. Setting unrealistic goals can lead to unrealistic expectations of oneself, making disappointment an obvious outcome. For example, having a goal to be a seasoned chef without learning the basics of cooking.
4. Lack of specificity: Goals like “I will be fit,” “I will be a good human being,” “I will be more disciplined,” etc. lack specificity and are therefore difficult to stick to.
5. Lack of planning: Just as having a goal is significant, having a precise plan is of no less importance. We often make New Year resolutions in excitement, but having a plan to deal with the challenges, discomfort, confusion, and boredom in the process of achieving the goal is crucial. Knowing the next step is significant. So not having a proper plan to stick to our resolutions can be a hurdle.
6. We tend to give up on long-term benefits over short-term or instant gratification. But our resolutions are mostly associated with long-term benefits. Therefore, when we start focusing only on short-term benefits, it becomes difficult to maintain consistency.
7. Sometimes the compulsion to do something perfectly makes it difficult to go ahead with the execution of the plan. We feel that we will either do it perfectly or not do it at all. For example, “I will work out early in the morning or not do it at all” or “I planned to study for two hours but am late by half an hour, so there is no point studying for just 1.5 hours.”
8. Procrastination can be a hindrance to sticking to New Year’s resolutions. Procrastination is a self-defeating behaviour when we know that a task is important and we also have the resources to do it, but we decide not to do it. There could be many reasons behind it, like ‘not feeling like doing’, ‘It will take a lot of effort’, ‘I will do it later’, etc.
9. Waiting for motivation to set in. Motivation, as is considered most often, is not a pre-requisite to doing a task. For example, we might not feel motivated to visit a doctor for a check-up, but we do it because it is required. Motivation is temporary, and waiting for motivation to kick in may be a reason behind compromising on our resolutions. We can go ahead with whatever needs to be done to achieve the goals without motivation.
10. Fear of failure might also hold us back from taking the steps that might be required to keep our resolutions rolling. For example, we have made a resolution to clear an examination but are unable to start the preparations due to fear of failure.
11. Fear of discomfort: The human brain is wired to resist change. Hence, the process of building a new habit or adopting a new lifestyle comes with a certain amount of discomfort. Not accepting this as a part of the process of change or having a constant inclination towards comfort can be a hurdle.
12. Ruminating on setbacks: Expecting a glitch-free journey towards achieving our resolutions can be disheartening, as it is far from real. Setbacks are a natural part of the process of change, and ruminating over them can move us away from our goals. Accepting the setbacks and getting back to work is the key.
Setting SMART goals is important for consistency. Goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound can be crucial when considering New Year resolutions. Also, a specific yet flexible plan or roadmap to guide us in achieving our goals can help us move ahead. It is also not necessary to stick to our resolutions all by ourselves. We can always seek help. And we can also have intentions instead of resolutions. Intentions can be set at any time and are more flexible, making them more sustainable. Equally important is the purpose associated with our resolutions. During challenging times when we might tend to give up on our resolutions, reminding ourselves of the purpose or ‘why’ can help us get back on track. With the concepts discussed, we can mindfully pave a way where our resolutions not only survive but also thrive in the face of challenges.