Are you familiar with the Scrooges of the January 1st world? The royally annoying, intrinsically motivated individuals who throw coal on my dreams of making New Year’s resolutions?
They're the people we love to hate. Who are inherently good at everything and yet modest and humble and superior in every quality humanly possible. They understand the underlying concepts of their college courses after reading through the study material only once. They exercise because they like the way it makes them feel, not because they want to look like Heidi Klum. They’re competitive with absolutely no one other than themselves, which is purely motivated by their desire to, you know, be their best self.
Why do I feel like hitting something right now?
These Scrooges of the resolution world believe New Year’s goals are for weak people who need a clean slate and aren’t strong enough to change their lifestyle at any other point in the year. They know that resolutions are typically too extreme, unreasonable and unachievable, causing the goal-maker to lose steam quickly and easily. And they believe that if there are areas where one wants to better herself, she shouldn’t wait for a specific day (like January 1st) to do so.
But the truth of the matter is that some of us love the idea of New Year’s resolutions. I thrive off of figuring out what my best self would look like and then determining the highly calculated algorithm for finding her, usually to include something like losing a trillion pounds and saving a billion dollars (not extreme or unreasonable in the slightest). I get a high from making lofty goals because the optimist and dreamer in me really does believe I can achieve them. I like creating goals where I’m able to envision my very best self at the end of my goal-reaching, just standing there, all fit and beautiful with perfectly white teeth and 17 gajabillion dollars in an emergency fund, claiming that this was the true me all along.
Here’s why I love myself a good New Year's resolution
- If it’s on a list, I’m motivated to do it. I’m also extra motivated when I’m able to cross the item off my list and see that I achieved something.
- I like fresh starts and clean slates. It’s why I prefer to get dressed after showering instead of after spending an hour in spin class (just kidding, I don’t really go to spin classes).
- The holidays tear us from our normal day-to-day routine and remind us of what we truly love and value in life. It’s a time of reflection and reevaluation, allowing us to think of how we’d like to divert the direction of our lives.
- I’m an extreme person. All or nothing, win or lose, black or white. I like the idea of writing out everything I need to change to make my life perfect - essentially what we all do when we make resolutions. It’s like goal setting on crack...or maybe on pure uncut heroin.
- I like the idea of starting the New Year excited for life and for change. I like navigating the direction of our life and being an active part in making our dreams happen.
But for all the negative realists out there who like to throw us statistics of how only 8% of people keep their resolutions, there is an equally astounding amount of research supporting our notion that goal setting is a good idea so long as it’s done in the right way. If you’re determined to make goals that stick this year, I suggest trying to abide by these proven techniques.
- Make a plan and create sub-goals. Baby steps are key to achieving big resolutions.
- Try to think of change as a system instead of a goal.
- Stop multitasking. Devote your attention to one goal at a time and you’re likely to have more success than those who try to accomplish four resolutions simultaneously.
- Remember that willpower is finite, so give yourself a fighting chance (and find ways to distract yourself from being tempted).
- Find ways, like this set of apps, to help yourself reach your sub-goals and stay motivated.
So don’t give up your New Year's resolutions, just agree to compromise enough to make them work. If you’re like me, I’ll admit that at first this will take a bit of the wind from your sails. But if we’re going to make these puppies work, we’re going to have to give ourselves enough grace to admit that we’re really not that great. At least not great enough to achieve everything on our list by yesterday. The truth of the matter is that I’m not going to lose 400 pounds in 2014. I’m just going to eat a little better and eat out a little less in the month of January.
I’m learning that grace is the miracle worker of achieving our goals.
I think that if we’re able to meet these micro goals we’ll ignite the inner extremist within us, propelling us to reach the next little goal. And the next. And the next. Because you, like me, really like crossing items off a to-do list and discovering that you’re actually quite productive. Turns out that when I see I’m accomplishing things, I’m excited to continue accomplishing things.
This year I’m admitting that I’m decent, but not yet awesome. I’m not making a New Year’s resolution to max our IRA’s, I’m resolving to make a household budget for the month of January. And if I make it through January, then maybe I’ll try to work on February.
And for those of you wanting to be, like, better people, you can stick to these Ted Talk resolutions.