But I also know it’s important to people. The end of one year and start of another (even if the calendar was semi-arbitrarily determined by some Romans a few thousand years ago) is a milestone in our society.
A milestone like New Year's can be a trigger that encourages us to better ourselves, and that’s always a good thing, That is, if it’s done right.
There are a number of problems that can come from relying on a date like New Year’s to trigger a set of big life changes. Here are 3 big ones:
- Problem #1: over-dependence. Relying on one particular date, no matter how much significance we give it, is a crutch. When the going gets tough, and it will, what’s to prevent us from rationalizing it's importance away so you can put off it an extra day?
- Problem #2: over-extending. Trying to make a big change all at once is never easy. When we bite off more than we can reasonably chew, our chances of burnout and failure drastically increase.
- Problem #3: over-it. There's the general malaise we get when we don't meet an average sized goal. Then there's the serious disappointment we feel when we start falling behind on the big ones. If we're not careful, these incremental setbacks can suck all the motivation out of the room.
So if you're currently working through the starting phases of a New Years resolution, and by all means do, be smart about it:
- Solution #1: start small. It's fine to set a bigger, long-term goal (like losing 20 pounds), but make it more realistic and manageable. Try creating easier, short-term accomplishments to get you there (like taking at least 5,000 steps a day using an app to track your progress or eating a vegetarian meal one night a week).
- Solution #2: stay motivated. Short-term goals are easier to stick to. Accomplishing these smaller goals will make you feel inspired as you work your way toward a bigger life change. Motivation is the vehicle that inspires your progress.
- Solution #3: be kind to yourself. You can't always be perfect and shouldn't expect yourself to, especially when making a big change and improvement in your life. Realize right now when you're starting, that you WILL fail sometimes, and that that's ok. Failure is how you learn to succeed. Don't let a mistake stop your progress, use it as motivation to do better as you continue.