How to handle your (inevitably) broken resolutions
By Jillian McMullen, Staff Writer
So here we are, a few weeks into the “New Year,” and like many, you’ve probably made a few resolutions. I’ve found that these first few weeks of the year are always when people are the most committed to their resolutions; when whatever habit they are trying to develop is most likely to becomes an everyday norm. Unfortunately, that kind of sudden intensity isn’t always sustainable. According to a Forbes report, only about nine per cent of people who make resolutions actually keep them. So, if you’ve already slept through a few of those early morning boot camps or neglected some class readings for “just one more episode,” here’s some steps to healthily approach failure—crying on the couch over a (second) bowl of ice cream not included.
The first thing you should do is acknowledge the shortcomings of making resolutions. We make resolutions to fix problems, so making resolutions inherently suggests you have a problem which you must resolve. Obviously, resolutions are not often born out of positivity, they are born out of insecurity regarding a personal trait or behavior someone decided is somehow undesirable. There’s a lot riding, then, on the success or failure of these resolutions. Your personal sense of value becomes wrapped up in whether or not you change that “undesirable” trait, and that’s why we feel a lot of guilt when that change simply doesn’t happen.
For those reasons, I haven’t made a resolution in a few years now and I actually think that, coupled with a shift in intention, I’ve been able to accomplish more without them. My suggestion for failing resolutions is to simply not make them. Rather, set reasonable goals instead.
I know it sounds like the same thing dressed up in different clothing, and honestly—it is! But it is the attitude you have when approaching these goals that becomes important. Find something you’d like to accomplish this year, and make sure it’s something you actually want to do. Personally, my goal is to save up enough money to go travel in Southeast Asia by next winter. I’m reaching towards an experience I’ll really enjoy, so I am already appreciating the work I’m doing to get myself there as I’ve taken the “chore aspect” out of it.
Once you’ve found that thing you’d like to accomplish, break it down. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan, and a plan supported with a commitment to it becomes attainable. What I like to do is plan out what steps I can take on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to reach my goal because that’s how you form habits. Habits are what keep you reaching and moving forward even when life inevitably throws an obstacle in your way.
And that’s the last thing to remember: The road towards accomplishing your goal isn’t a one-way street. Don’t be discouraged if it feels like things are working against you—even if one of those things happens to be yourself. You’re allowed to mess up and you’re allowed to do things that aren’t determined by the goal you have set for yourself. The way that I look at it is that a goal is supposed to work for you, not the other way around. It is healthy to have something you’re aiming towards, but it’s definitely okay if you end up landing somewhere else.