The Three-Step-Guide To Rocking Your New Year's Resolutions
Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash
January, that time of the year in which one is filled with the desire to start afresh; it's a chance to set new goals as well as shooting again for those ones that escaped you previously. Another opportunity to start all those things that you always wanted to start: ‘This year, I’ll start going to the gym every day’, ‘This year, I’ll stop eating junk food’.
In most cases, we do start the year following those new resolutions. Gyms experience a massive intake of motivated individuals who take advantage of the many membership promotions during January. However, the busy turnover only lasts for some days and then it drops again. We also, usually, decide to start a more balanced diet after running out of the Christmas leftovers and chocolates. It's not too long before February hits again with its depressive and dull vibes, when nothing is happening and we end up shutting ourselves in at home with a huge cup of indulgent hot chocolate and some biscuits. Resolutions end up being ‘un-resolved’. How can we maintain our resolve?
I personally like to take the end of the year as an opportunity to reflect on the things I have done during the year. It also coincides with my birthday and I usually submerge myself in a mellow nostalgic mood for some days in which I review some of the things I have achieved in that year and what I still want to achieve. Without turning this into a melancholic episode, I like to take this time of reflection as an inspiration for setting up new goals. My tips for undertaking this task are:
1. Set realistic goals.
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If you are like me and you never go to the gym, planning on going every day won't work. Unless you are granted with an incredible dosage of motivation, the stiff muscles after your first session in the gym might keep you away from it for months. Why not change the ‘I want to go to the gym every day’ to ‘I want to work out more?’. Start gradually and plan in advance how you are going to do this. It’s also good to consider that maybe the gym isn’t your thing, but you find other more pleasant activities for working out (53 different sport clubs at the University to chose among!) By breaking down this big goal, we have more chances to achieve it.
The same tactics could be used by many PGRs: ‘This year I need to write more for my thesis’. While this is a duty we have, we tend to approach it in the wrong way. In some cases, we end up days before a deadline writing a paper or spending a weekend locked up at home to write the necessary words for the annual progress review. As in the previous case, it’s better to take gradual steps and to maintain a constant routine. Depending on your schedule, you can write different sections fortnightly (or monthly).
2. Plan ahead
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For some goals, like writing, it’s good to set yourself small deadlines before ‘the’ deadline. Start the year by taking note of all your deadlines and begin to plan your strategy. Once you have already assigned time to a particular task it’s easier to find the motivation to carry on.
3. Get rid of the negativity and look forward
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Maybe the previous year wasn’t a perfect one. Maybe the New Year is starting already with some bad outcomes. In either case, it’s important to look forward and to keep in mind the goals you have set yourself.
How can we keep pursuing our goals when we are faced with bad outcomes despite our best attempts? The key here is to maintain our motivation and to cultivate our patience. In recent years I found a practice that was helping me a lot. With my partner, we started this tradition of burning things that made us upset from the previous year. I used this ritual to channel the negativity out of me by burning old work contracts and stupid language exercises for my English-knowledge tests. These things were symbolic of activities that I didn’t like and I needed to endure in the previous year but after burning them I was free from them. In my case, I can do this safely in my garden, but there are other ways to let bad things go.
A good way to start the year is with a general cleaning where we discard any stuff that we don’t need any longer. For no material things, try to start different lists where you write down the things that you enjoyed or that you accomplished this last year. If you don’t come up with any, try to start with simple things like: ‘that day in which I had a coffee with my old friend’. Keep it simple and things will start coming. Usually, you find that you achieved more than you thought!
And most importantly, remember that if by the end of the year you haven’t accomplished all the goals you set, isn’t the end of the world. At least you tried, and you gained more knowledge for the next year!