The new year is around the corner, and with it new year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, we all know how this usually plays out: We set a goal. We stick with it for a few weeks. We give up around February or March. And when December comes around, we make the same resolution again.
Personal Growth New Year’s Resolutions
So how can we set resolutions that we can actually keep and that foster our personal growth? This is easier said than done, but there is a way that will facilitate the process. The secret is to not set goals. Instead, focus on forming habits that eventually will lead to you reaching your goals!
Goals can be intimidating, especially if they are set too high. You feel unmotivated before you have even started working on them and naturally don’t achieve them. Or you feel super motivated at the beginning and when you fail to see results right away, you lose all energy to keep working towards your goal.
If you focus on building the right habits however, you are no longer thinking goal-oriented. Instead, you think process-oriented, and can make all the difference.
Let’s say you want to lose 10kg in the new year. In general this is a good goal to have, but it is a horrible new year’s resolution. It is way too vague, it doesn’t provide a clear action plan and you don’t fully control the outcome. Instead, consider someone who has the resolution to bike to work every day. The outcome might be exactly the same (losing 10 kg), but the approach is completely different. Biking every day is concrete, it tells you what to do and it provides a clear action plan. Furthermore, since it is focussed on building a (healthy) habit, this resolution will become automatic about 1-2 months into the year.
Forming habits over setting goals
Studies state different time frames that are needed to fully implement a new habit: some say 30 days, some up to 66 days. But they all agree on one thing: with time, habits stop being hard. They become something we routinely do, without even thinking about it – and without exhausting willpower.
That is the critical point that you have to reach: the moment that doing something differently stops being hard. Once you are past that point reaching your goal (like losing those 10kg) is just a matter of time. But so many people never get there because they focus solely on the destination and pay no attention to the journey. With that mindset, you are a failure the entire time until you reach your goal. And that will create such a negative vibe that you are unlikely to reach your goal, ever.
So, when New Year’s Eve comes around, keep in mind what Aristotle said:
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.