In just a few short days, we’ll be ringing in 2024…which is likely not news to you. Over the past few weeks, we’ve all been bombarded with ads, motivational posts, and other content surrounding the new year.
One of the topics constantly mentioned is resolutions. You simply can’t think about New Years without them. At midnight on January 1st, almost everyone starts out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on a mission to achieve their goals. Which, by the way, we fully support you!
However, when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, there are some major dos and don’ts to set yourself up for success.
DON'T: Take on Too Much
We get it, you’re eager to make a change in your life, right here, right now. But, when you take on too big of a goal or try and do too much at once, it can set you up for stress and disappointment. After all, you’re only human which means you can only accomplish so much. Adding too much to your plate leaves you not being able to do it all, which can overwhelm and discourage you.
Along these lines is giving yourself too little time to achieve things. Good things take time; in fact, a study has shown that it takes an average of 66 days to form a healthy habit that sticks.1 Not allowing the proper time and space can set you up for failure from the start. Think of the story of the tortoise and the hare. Achieving goals is very much like the tortoise—slow and steady wins the race, or in this case, reaches your resolutions.
DO: Start Small
Rather than trying to do 10 things at once, completely change your life in 1 month, or expect a goal that is impossible, starting small will ensure that you make headway on the important changes you’re wanting to make in your life. By breaking a bigger resolution into more bite-sized pieces, you can lay down the building blocks to get you where you’re wanting to go.
One simple and effective way to do this is to create SMART goals—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound.
The broader your goal, the more difficult it will be to accomplish. Instead of your mind putting its efforts into a singular focus, it will be more chaotic if you’re not specific. For example, if your goal is to be more active in 2024, that’s great! But rather than writing down “be more active”, flesh that out into something like get 5,000 steps a day, work out 3x a week, or do one yoga class a week. A singular focus sets you up to align your actions towards what you're wanting to achieve.
Specific goals are a great starting point, but quantifying those goals will bring them to another level. After all, achieving a goal doesn’t mean much if you can’t track that you got there. Creating a measurable goal helps you track and show the progress that you’re making. From the example above, don’t just say you want to go to a workout class more often, pick a number of classes a week. Pick how many books you want to read this year, when you want to start your business, or how much money you’re aiming to save this year.
Not setting realistic resolutions sets you up for failure, so now is the time to get real with yourself, your abilities, your schedule, etc. Goals should be realistic rather than a too-high mountain that you’re always climbing but never reaching. When your resolutions are achievable, you can, well, achieve them. If you only go to the gym 1 day a week right now, making a goal of going 5x might be too much to start. Or, if you know you only have 1 free evening a week, you probably don’t want to plan to work on your business 3x a week.
With relevant goals, you’re thinking about why you’re setting the goal(s) you are. Zoom out on the big picture of your life, your job, yourself, etc. and make sure the resolutions you’re choosing fit in with your life. Unless you’re trying to become a professional athlete, you probably don’t need to workout for 2 hours a day, 5 days a week. Or if your life and schedule are super chaotic and busy right now, starting a business, even if you want to, may not be practical right now. Find what works for you!
Similarly to measurable, time-bound goals create a timeline around when you want to achieve said goals. When do you want to start? When do you want to have the goal achieved by? How often will you work on it or how long will this goal be for? Answering questions like these will help you achieve what you’re setting out to.
DON'T: Expect Perfection
Progress > perfection may be cliche, but it’s also 1000% true. Expecting perfection often makes it difficult to start a goal or to continue once you mess up. Because trust us, as humans, we all will. Plus, perfectionism isn’t realistic. No one in this world is perfect at anything, so why are you expecting yourself to be?
You don’t have to make a perfect goal, you don’t have to hit every milestone perfectly, you don’t have to take the perfect path to achieving. So, let go of any and all expectations and high bars of perfection that you have placed upon yourself and your resolutions.
DO: Be Patient
As we mentioned above, it’s all about progress, not perfection. Reaching your New Year’s resolution is going to take time—it won’t happen overnight, no matter how hard you hustle. When you’re patient with yourself, you have the ability to celebrate your progress while still working hard towards whatever goal you may have set.
Along these same lines, make sure you give yourself grace along the way this coming year. You’re doing the best that you can, and that’s enough! Remember, every step you take forward, even if it feels off or looks less than ideal, is something to be proud of. Consistent, flawed effort will pay off more than putting an unrealistic pressure upon yourself to be perfect.
DON'T: Compare Yourself
Comparison truly is the thief of joy and other people are bad indicators of what your goals should be or how you’re doing. Why? Because you’re your own unique person who is on your own unique journey!
Don’t compare your resolutions to any one else’s and don’t compare yourself to someone else’s progress. You can’t do what Betty is doing and you shouldn’t be trying what Inez is saying you should. When you start looking to other people for your resolutions, you’re setting yourself up for defeat. Instead, support others on their journeys while still trusting yourself and the path you’re on.
DO: Think About Your "Why"
One of the most important things you can do is know the reason you want to change something. In other words, think about your “why”. Is it something you “think” you need to change in order to fit standards, something someone is telling you, or someone you saw on social media? Or is it something you genuinely want to work on or towards? Is it something you hate about yourself or something you want to improve?
It’ll be much easier to keep working towards goals that you care about and that are important to you. It’s also better to change yourself from a place of acceptance, not hate.
DON'T: Feel Pressured
When everyone else is talking about their resolutions, it’s easy to feel pressured to jump right in. While New Year's resolutions are fantastic, they’re not the right choice for everyone. Only create goals if it’s something that is important to you, makes sense, and will be healthy. Creating resolutions to be healthier (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) that make you unhealthy while trying to achieve them defeats the whole purpose.
At the same time, don’t feel like you have to start January 1st just because that is the typical resolution starting line. There is no shame — starting a goal on May 1st or September 15th still counts the same as starting in January.
DO: Do What's Best for You
The truth is, you know yourself best and you know what’s best for you. That includes what resolutions to set, what time frame is doable, how you’re making progress, and more. At the end of the day, your New Year’s resolutions are yours and no one else’s. While it might be tempting to follow a trend or copy someone else, the most success you’re going to have is finding and doing what works best for you.
A Goal to Get Connected
If your 2024 New Year’s resolution is to get connected to a local community, we can help! There are numerous benefitsto belonging to a community and various ways to get connected. That’s why we’re passionate about helping you connect with a church community near you so that you can find a place to belong, be known, and feel supported. Click below to get connected!
What to Do If You’re Not Looking Forward to the New Year?
We want to end this post acknowledging that not everyone is excited about the coming of 2024 and everything the new year entails. While some people are excited for a fresh start or already planning their goals, you might be finding it difficult to let go of this past year. That is understandable and valid.
So, if you’re not looking forward to the new year, know you’re not alone. It’s okay to grieve the year before or be afraid of the change that a new year will bring. If you can, find just one thing to look forward to in 2024, no matter how big or small. We encourage you to hold onto the good of the past while moving forward into the unknown of the future.