Every year decisions to improve ourselves begin at the stroke of midnight each New Year’s Day. Whether it’s to be more frugal, get in shape or be charitable, it’s always easier to procrastinate by saying, “I’ll start next year.” But does that time ever come? Surprisingly, according to a study, only 8 percent of the people who make New Year’s resolutions actually complete them, leaving the rest of the New Year’s aspirations to last only for a couple of weeks.
The low success rate of the people who aspire to better themselves is quite depressing. While setting goals for self-improvement shows admirable characteristics, most people do not follow through with their resolutions. Some lose motivation while others give up during the process of achieving them. Part of the problem is the type of goals that are being set. Life-altering goals require full commitment and this is where most people fail.
Peter Kinderman of the University of Liverpool argues that the hype surrounding the New Year is what makes people overambitious. The “new year, new me” mentality takes over and creates overconfidence in people who want to change. Using the new year as an excuse to make changes may not be enough. If changes need to be made, a new year is not a necessary component to take action. If a goal is significant enough, someone should be excited to start pursuing it as soon as possible rather than putting it off for later. All that is needed are achievable goals that have been broken down into doable steps.
Students may strive for better grades or to participate in more school activities. For students attending school in a quarter system, renewing and setting new goals can be easier. Looking back at the beginning of a quarter and reevaluating oneself at the end can be effective when setting goals. A student wouldn’t have to wait for the New Year mentality. Instead, he or she can think of the next quarter as a “fresh start.” Having more “fresh starts” in a year can open the doors to more possibilities. Not being able to reach goals the first time doesn’t mean failure; it just calls for a new plan. Goals can be a matter of trial and error and with three opportunities to start anew, it is more likely to succeed. With any goal, it is important to work on it throughout the whole year and not just at the beginning.
Changing the approach to goal-setting can help resolve the problem of unachievable goals. For instance, psychologist Lynn Bufka argues that setting small goals throughout the year is more effective than setting one huge goal for the entire year. Students may want to increase their grade point average and make it onto the Chancellor’s list. Instead of concentrating on the whole year, focusing on one quarter at a time makes it a manageable goal. Short-term goals tend to be achievable which makes them easier to uphold because they can be less intimidating than large life-altering goals. Failing to reach resolutions in an unreasonable amount of time can be discouraging, resulting in failure to follow through. The feeling of accomplishment of completing short-term goals every few months can help motivate a person to maintain their New Year’s resolution.
Planning is essential to reaching New Year’s resolutions. Without a plan, goals are just dreams. Goals become attainable when there is a step-by-step process to follow, which helps keep track of what needs to be done to accomplish those goals. The plan created to reach a goal should be realistic and while it may be challenging, it should also be fun. It is more likely to give up on a boring plan than one that is enjoyable and having a plan is the first step toward reaching long-term changes. For those seeking higher grades, studying an hour more than usual each day would put them on the right path to getting better grades. To the people who want to pursue a healthier lifestyle but can’t fit the gym into their schedule, doing 10 minutes of exercise before going to bed would be a great way to kickstart their goals. For those who have failed at the same New Year’s resolution year after year, a fresh new plan can be what makes their goal possible to achieve.
Since most people fail at reaching their New Year’s resolutions year after year, they can be perceived to be a waste of time. New Year’s resolutions can be success stories when the right approach is taken. While a new year is not essential to achieving goals, in order to accomplish resolutions, it is important to have a plan and follow through. A lifestyle change is difficult and takes time to accomplish but with the right plan, it is possible.