How to set realistic goals for self-improvement and not get into the New Year trap
Self Improvement

How to set realistic goals for self-improvement and not get into the New Year trap

As the end of year draws near, it’s only natural for people to look back at the days gone by – how far along they’ve come in their journey, what they’re proud of, the mistakes they made, and what they aspire to in the coming days. It’s also that time of year when people want to make a fresh start – leaving behind old habits and looking to inculcate new, healthier ones. Most of us make resolutions for the new year and kickstart with great enthusiasm, but how many of us actually end up following them throughout the year, and what can we do to ensure that these resolutions stick?

1. Make them personally meaningful: Many a time, our resolutions, our decision-making, our aspirations follow those of others around us, be it our friends, family or what we see in the media. Rather than get stuck in this web of conformity, look at personal goals that are meaningful to you.

2. Take ownership of your goals: When making resolutions, or aspiring to a certain kind of life, focus on your own self. Avoid comparing yourself with other people. Instead, just focus on being a better version of your own self.

3. Keep them simple: It’s rather difficult to overhaul our entire life and our habits overnight. Make sure that when you make your resolutions, they are gradual, simple and easy to follow. Success in the initial days can boost your motivation and help you steady the path even when things get more difficult.

4. Build on your strengths: You don’t need to make brand new resolutions addressing different aspects of your life each year. It’s sometimes just as important to stick to the good habits we’ve already inculcated and renew our commitment to following through on them, and improving even further.

5. Approach your resolutions with values: While a goal is a destination, our values are the pathway to that destination. Rather than formulating your resolutions in the form of outcomes or goals, look at a different approach to these resolutions – think consistency, accountability, honesty, intentionality, or any other values that are most important to you. This way you’ll find various aspects of your life impacted by this one resolution.

6. Learn from mistakes: While consistency is important to form any habit, falling off the wagon is also common, and it’s okay if you slip up. Don’t blame others, the situation or yourself for what has happened. Don’t berate yourself or give up either. Instead, take ownership and responsibility. Accept that you faltered, learn from the mistakes you made and try again to resume your habit from the very next day. It’s also okay to make adjustments to your goals and your approach as you learn from experience.

7. Take it one day at a time: Thinking about doing something for a full 365 days may seem daunting. A better approach would be to break down your goals and just keep taking one step at a time. Just knowing that you’ve held your ground and are getting better, even if incrementally, with every passing day, is the key to long lasting change.

8. Don’t wait for the 31st to start a new healthy habit: If there’s something you really want to change or add to your life, don’t wait till December 31 to make that change. Set any day as the start of your journey – let these goals come to you when you’re ready, motivated and see a clear reason for doing them, rather than succumbing to the pressure of having to make changes simply because of a change in calendar.