Resolutions for the New Year!
As I sit at home in my post-holiday mood in Hong Kong, trying to recover from all the excesses of the holidays, I think about my personal and work plans for 2019, and what my New Year Resolutions will be. I am not much of a resolution person, but coming from the training and coaching background, I am very much a goal-setting person.
I decided then to do a quick research on the subject!
Most people know that a New Year Resolution is typically a promise one makes to oneself to start doing something different, starting on the first day of the year. Typical resolutions include: start exercising, eat more healthily, spend less money, drink less, or get better at something or stop doing something, among other things.
But when did resolutions start? And how successful are New Year Resolutions?
Looking at religious origins, the ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. In the Medieval era, the knights took a vow at the end of each Christmas season to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry (their traditional code of conduct).
At night services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions.
There are other religious parallels to this tradition. During Judaism's New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one's wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. People may act similarly during the Catholic fasting period of Lent, though the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility. In fact, the practice of New Year Resolutions partially come from the Lenten sacrifices.
So, what are resolutions all about?
The concept, regardless of religion, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually, and make a plan for the present and the future. How many of us say:
“Oh…. this coming year, I will do more of this, or I will really do less of that”? Of course lots of us do, but do we keep our “promises”?! Do our resolutions really work?
According to a study done in the UK in 2007, involving 3,000 people, it was found that 88% of those who set New Year Resolutions fail. Pretty frustrating, hum? Even though 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning of the year, a great majority did not succeed.
The interesting fact, however, is that when people engage in goal setting when doing their New Year Resolutions, they are much more likely to succeed as it helps them work towards their objectives in a more specific, systematic and positive way.
Additionally, when people set fewer and more specific goals, they also have a higher success rate than those setting up too many and general goals.
So, what are FELIZ Consulting tips for you in terms of Resolutions?
Take some time to reflect on the previous year. Reflect on your experiences, learnings, achievements, joys, frustrations and challenges.
Start thinking of your resolutions and what will bring you happiness. Open your heart and set your intention in a positive way.
Get ready to transform your resolutions into more specific goals, using a goal-setting model.
What do we suggest? We recommend the “S.M.A.R.T Goal Setting” Model, which is commonly attributed to Peter Drucker. It is simple to understand and easy to apply:
Set up goals that are specific! For example, if you are thinking of losing weight, try putting a number, like “I want to lose 5kg from January to March and maintain it throughout the year.” If you just say, “I want to lose some weight,” it is too vague and won’t get you motivated enough to succeed.
Quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress. Give yourself a number or an amount or some way that allows you to measure your progress. For example: “I will exercise twice a week and eat carbs only once a day,” (if your goal is to become fitter), or “I will only drink alcohol once a week,” (if your goal is to drink less), or, “I will save $500 a week,” (and maybe make it a fun challenge eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch twice a week!), or “I will send 5 resumes out every week” (if your goal is to get a new job). The examples go on and on.
This is self-explanatory! If it is specific and measurable, it will be achievable. It can be something you aim to achieve in a few months or years, but it is still important to have achievable key points so you can see your progress, stay focused and motivated.
It is important that you do something that goes with your reality, resources and circumstance to make it happen. It can be challenging and interesting, but be careful not to make it overly ambitious, or make sure you give yourself enough time to achieve your ambitious goal. You can lose 20kg, but you probably can’t do that in a week!
Have a time frame in mind that is relatively short, so you can reassess your progress and increase your chances of success. For instance, make it a point to have a deadline and then check your progress every month or two months.
I hope this article was useful and that the SMART model sheds some light into your goal setting and New Year Resolutions. And remember that whatever your SMART goal is, it is important that it makes you feel happy and brings you joy. Will this add happiness to your life? If the answer is yes, then go for it!
I wish you a wonderful year ahead filled with happiness, peace and good health!
Please let us know if you need any help specifying or achieving your personal or corporate goals in 2019. We are happy to help and make it happen!