New Year. New Me. Same Shitty Goals!
I'm tired of the same empty promises year on year. This changes now!
Goodbye 2020, hello 2021. Please, please just don't suck. With one year ending and a new one arrives, we find ourselves in the first days of January with the usual: a few extra pounds, a little hungover and a few New Year's resolutions to boot.
Do you usually propose a New Year's resolutions? There are two camps, the carpe diem lot, who say why wait till new years, start today (that was me *raises hand* me, me, look here!) but let me tell you something, I've recently jumped on the resolutions bandwagon and you really should start too; for your mental health.
I was reluctant to set goals to meet each year, driven by the idea that time is a construct, you should not wait for a new year to start to do things and oh my god I am so hipster and interesting and carpe diem and god I'm good at excuses. I used to think that the important thing is to set goals in with specific time frames in mind and that it does not matter whether I start a diet in the middle of December or on a Wednesday. However, in practice it's not so simple, it sadly never is! When we are in full holiday mode, our attention is focused on being with our family, friends, buying gifts and eating (emphasis on the latter), so although you can start a new habit, the truth is that it is one of the worst times to do it.
Starting new goals at the beginning of the year is more practical, as we can view the entire year as a time frame, broken down into twelve manageable chunks, which are then broken down into 30(ish) days and further again into 4 or 5, 7 day weeks, yes I've just explained the calendar (yay me) So back to the new year, all the clocks in the world are reset and it's like a clean slate for you to set yourself new challenges, unless you live in China, in that case, you should wait for the new year in February.
Work Smarter, Not Harder.
Most of my New Year's goals are usually dead by March, for me and most it seems, the gyms are half as empty as they were in January, and everything you set for yourself on December 31st completely forgot. Why is it so easy to set goals but so difficult to meet them? Well, first of all, it's because you're doing your New Year's resolutions wrong and I'm going to explain why.
As I wrote my list of everything I want to achieve for 2021, (get ripped, starting my business and get perfect teeth) my hand is loaded with motivation; however, that motivation is not going to last 12 months, so discipline is essential because when not motivated, discipline is the only thing that will drive you to do things.
On the other hand, you shouldn't set your goals and think of doing them throughout the year, you should have fixed, concrete, written dates for each thing you wish to achieve. Do not say that this year you will begin to write the first draft of your book, better commit to having a hundred pages ready by the first quarter of the year. Don't write “travel more” on your list, write “take a trip to (insert Bali-esque destination) on summer vacation.” If you do not set a specific time to do anything, you will convince yourself that there is enough year left to achieve your goals, and when you least realize it is December and All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey is ringing in all the malls again. You will sit there thinking WTF happened, I've accomplished nothing. Trust me, Parkinson's law is a bitch! Remember old man Parkinson when you feel the procrastination monkey on your back,
"work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion"
So get to it and chill when you're done, without that shitty guilt.
My other tip for myself and anyone who cares to read my ramblings would be to be as specific as possible with your goals as well and increase the good or decrease the bad in increments. If what you want is to quit smoking, don't try “quitting smoking cold turkey”, it's a lot easier, and a hell of a lot more achievable to “smoke only one cigarette a day”, and then evaluate how it went and change it to “smoke a maximum of 3 times a week”. Take “Be fit” off your list, which has been there since 2014, be practical, change it to “go to the gym twice a week” and you can increase the number of days as the year goes by.
It's Good To Have Resolutions
Goal setting is known to be good for mental health and well-being. The feeling of euphoria that is produced in the brain when we achieve something, that release of dopamine can be addictive, there's truly nothing like it. In addition, setting goals for our benefit is an effective way to acquire, change or eradicate a habit and this can help us get closer to what we want to be. Finishing projects is easier when we have goals, and that also has a rewarding effect on us that can alter our brain chemistry for the better. Giving us the boost in self-confidence we need to go for those goals that seemed so far off a few months ago.
I've also found that goals are a great method of regulating emotions because by having them we must deal with everything that we may feel throughout the process of achieving something. There is the satisfaction of achieving it of course, but also the frustration, anger, sadness and intrigue, and throughout this marvellous journey, we must be able to control each of these emotions. We cannot lock ourselves in a pillow fort in our bedroom every time we fail to accomplish something, no matter how much we want to do it. Who else loves making a pillow fort? Comment below (comments are only for subscribers, you can do that by clicking the big blue button) ↓
Being successful with our goals is a big boost to our self-esteem, which is very important for people who suffer from anxiety or depression like myself. Sometimes the best medicine when I feel discouraged is the feeling of accomplishment, no matter how small. On gloomy days it can feel like a treat to make my bed, make dinner instead of eating out or cleaning the kitchen. Sometimes you have to say to yourself “Yay! I took a shower!” and then high five yourself, you deserve it you beautifully smelling champ.
Mental Health & Wellness As A New Year's Resolution?
What are the most common goals we set ourselves when a year begins? Go to the gym, lose weight, eat better, save, travel, etc. What do they all have in common, think about it, I'll give you a few seconds...ok times up! Well, they are all related to your own health, and by achieving them all, that would contribute to feeling better. Yet very few people set goals that are directly focused on mental health. Ask yourself: have you ever determined to go to therapy as a New Year's resolution?
Some goals you can add to your New Years list include:
Focus on your moods. Ask yourself from time to time how do I feel? What is making me feel this way? Be more in tune with your emotions.
Pay attention to the quality of your sleep. Sleep is vital for the stability of our health, especially our mental health. Perhaps you are used to sleeping at odd hours and getting little rest. Commit to having a better sleep cycle. I wrote a bunch of articles on better sleep. Why not try some of those tips for better sleep
Take care of stress levels. Identify what things in your day to day life cause you stress. Look for ways to correct it in order to avoid being in a constant state of anxiety and worry
Give time to new and forgotten hobbies. Take back the old hobbies that you used to have and left behind for routine life, or look to have a new one. Learn to play an instrument, join a book club, meet new people (don't forget to social distance *sad face* the worlds really f***ed up isn't it?)
Having goals is important, having goals in the new year is even more so. Allow yourself to achieve new challenges and see how little by little you become a version of yourself that you've always wanted to be.