It’s officially 2017. Yay… Every New Year, we motivate ourselves to make huge changes in our lives, so we make resolutions. Why? Because it’s a tradition and if you don’t make them you may run the risk of appearing lazy or apathetic. However, every year you make resolutions and every year you manage to accomplish none of them (or very few). What’s up with that?
According to Psychology professor Peter Herman, when we create New Year’s resolutions we adopt something called the “false hope syndrome”, or the condition where we falsely hope to accomplish unrealistic goals. These goals are impractical and fall out of synch with who we really are. Failure to fulfil resolutions could be because we set our expectations too high, and then when it comes time to actually do something, we don’t know where to start or are afraid to take the first steps. It could also be attributed to the fact that some of us tend have a harder time accomplishing something once we’ve made it a task. For example, you’ve decided that you want to lose weight, so you say that your resolution is to lose 20 pounds. That’s actually a lot harder than it sounds and is no longer something exciting that you really want to do-it’s just another task for the checklist and can be easily neglected when other things in your life take priority. The solution is to treat goals like a hobby.
Instead of making New Year’s resolutions here’s my challenge for you. Make goals into hobbies. Why do we have hobbies? Because people like to do things they enjoy. You probably won’t enjoy losing 20 pounds (let’s just be real) but ask yourself this, what about losing 20 pounds excites you? What part of that process do you really want to do or already love doing? For example, do you like to cook and are excited about making certain recipes, are you a dancer and want to join a dance group, do you like to go hiking, running, or just want to join meetup group of people who are also trying to lose weight. Make your goals something that you actually want to do. Keep in the back of your mind that the end goal is to lose weight, but enjoy the journey and celebrate every victory. Celebrate after you lose 5 pounds, 10 pounds etc. After all, having goals is supposed to be fun!
Stop making resolutions that are ridiculously hard to accomplish like quitting smoking, getting more organized or getting into grad school. These are intimidating goals and take a careful amount of planning to accomplish. Most of us simply won’t do it. Know yourself and how you tick. Are you the kind of person that is very goal oriented and accomplishes what they set out to do, or are you the type of person that needs a (a lot) of motivating. If you’re the later type then using fun goals as motivation will serve you well. Don’t crush yourself with expectations then feel bad about it when you aren’t successful. Have some sympathy for your future self and ease up a bit, you’ll thank me later.