The difference between 12:01am and 12:01pm on New Year’s Day really is staggering. First, the euphoria of turning a page of history and getting a fresh start, then the all-consuming hangover that has you questioning all your life choices to date. The dizzying high and the crippling low in such a short space of time is unlike anything in the world.
I can understand, therefore, why people make New Year’s Resolutions. It’s a way of coping with all this rushing change. Just by the creeping of the Big Ben’s big hand past midnight, everything changed forever. So you need a New You to accommodate that right?
It’s been about 5 years since I made a New Year’s Resolution. Not because I have completed the project that is me and I’m now certifiably perfect. More because I, like most people would set myself a whole bunch of general and immediate plans, inevitably failing when I stretched myself too thin. Ironic, considering the point of my diet and exercise plan was to stretch myself thin.
Some people respond well to the pressure of making ten life-changing decisions on January 1st and thrive. If you’re human, however, it might result in a bit of a car crash. But there’s an easy enough way to get around this. Don’t get hung up on a New You and focus on being an Improved You.
Set targets and don’t wait
Don’t think that I don’t get it. I’m well aware that no-one is completely happy with themselves. But if you absolutely have to make resolutions, do them right. Vague proclamations at the beginning of the year are all very well and good, but then go away and do the planning.
Any goals you set for yourself should be SMART – specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based. Set yourself a realistic goal for the end of the first month, the first three months etc. and re-evaluate constantly depending on your progress. Doing it in increments like this is just a bit more manageable and you’re more likely to succeed.
Why wait for New Year anyway? If you’ve got multiple resolutions, staggering them a little bit will help you build up some momentum. That way, if you’ve kicked cigarettes in January and you want to do away with meat in say, April, you’ll already be into a bit of a routine and the sting won’t be so bad.
It’s difficult, but doable. Here’s the most important thing about self-improvement that everyone seems to forget:
Celebrate the good things about yourself
New Year is essentially low self-esteem’s birthday. It’s way too easy to get in your feelings about all the things you didn’t achieve the previous year and how, with every passing month, you get a bit less cool and a bit more decrepit.
Before you get carried away on making resolutions, take stock of how you improved and what you did well in the last year, from the tiny to the ultra-significant. A great way to do this is to make an anti to-do list, logging every little accomplishment. Looking at all your unfinished tasks can drain you – a list of achievements can push you to achieve more. You might even realise that perhaps there isn’t much need for resolutions after all.
People get so caught up in arbitrary periods of time, they forget that even though it’s January 1st, you’re the same person in the same world as the day before. The truth is, you’re you. And there’s nothing wrong with that. And if you’re gonna set out to be better, loving the current You is an instrumental part of the process.
Images via Giphy
Feature image via IB Times