new year = new goals?

It’s a strange phenomenon, New Year. In Western culture we’re socialised to see the first day of the year as a new start, a time to reflect, look ahead and to set goals for the next 12 months.

And yet January 1st is really no different from any other of the 364.2422 days in our calendar. Logically, there’s no reason why we should suddenly start doing things differently, turning over new leaves or, in some dire cases, uproot entire trees (figuratively speaking of course) in our need to make change in our lives. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate for us to rather use the start of each day to reassess how we’re progressing towards our goals?

But hey, most of us like to see Jan 1st as a bit special anyway. And by the end of January all the unrealistic resolutions have been shifted out and the achievable challenges remain intact, there to keep us on our toes for the rest of the year.

Interestingly, The Guardian UK published an article at the end of 2015, presenting the results of a survey conducted by UK private health insurance company Bupa, looking at how long people tend to keep their New Year’s Resolutions. The most common resolutions were, not surprisingly, to lose weight, to get fitter, and to eat more healthily.

And the study found that of the 63% of UK adults who failed to keep their New Year’s resolution,
- 43% didn’t even last a month,
- 66% lasted one month or less,
- 80% lasted less than three months, and
- 86% maintained their resolution for less than a year.

I think it’s important to set goals, of course. And whether you want to set them at the start of a new year, or on your birthday, or on an arbitrary Tuesday morning whenever in the year, is not important – what is important is that you DO set them, and that you be determined to achieve them. Without a change in mindset, there’s no chance you’ll achieve a change in behaviour.

I believe there are five essentials of setting goals:
1.  make your goals measurable;
2.  be sure your goals are attainable;
3.  ensure your goals are relevant to you;
4.  give your goals a timeline and a deadline by which to achieve them; and
5.  make your goals action-oriented.

As important as working hard to achieve your goals is, it’s vital to ensure the joy remains.
If we don’t feel joy from the things we do, the enthusiasm in our effort turns to drudgery.
Just as positivity encourages growth, so effort without enjoyment becomes tedious and negative. Enjoying what we do keeps the spring in our step, the energy in our efforts, the excitement in our hard work.

So, set yourself challenges and DARE to achieve them. Believe in yourself, trust in your own potential, and allow yourself the freedom and space to start something new.
Unless you try, you’ll never know.

So, welcome 2017, and may you bring to us all a healthy dose of positive challenges; a generous measure of achievements, big and small; and bags of fulfilment in every aspect of our lives.