How are your resolutions coming today? I hope that you aren’t distraught over not having reached your goals yet; you have nothing but time.
New Year’s Resolutions are great in theory and can be an excellent way to inspire change within one’s self, but many of us struggle with them in practice because of the undue pressure we put on ourselves to achieve them. Most resolutions fail because we worry too much about reaching the end result “in time,” and as a result, we lose focus on taking the steps that will get us to where we want to go. No doubt, fulfilling the promises you made yourself at the beginning of the year is hard work. That’s why I prefer making Daily Resolutions.
The biggest issue with New Year’s Resolutions is that they are often so lofty that the long journey ahead overwhelms those of us who make them; the end goal is treated as a destination instead of a journey, and our motivation seeps when we realize all the steps that separate us from what we desire. Daily Resolutions are more effective because they shift the focus from working on the difficult, long-term goal to the easy, short-term steps needed to build up to that goal.
Take a house, for instance. Architects don’t say “I want a house that looks like (x) and is (y) big,” and then have it magically built in one day; it takes time for construction to lay a foundation, build the framework, and add everything that goes into a house. The resolutions we hold ourselves to are the same way; you have to start at the foundation.
Almost every resolution one can make revolves around changing habits or mindsets, which is so easy to forget when focused solely on the end goal. Daily Resolutions help keep focus on those habits, and concentrates your energy on breaking or changing your habits one day at a time. Take weight loss, for instance: instead of making a vague, lofty goal of “I’m going to exercise more” or “I’m going to eat less,” one could try a Daily Resolution of “I’m going to run for 30 minutes today,” or “I’m not going to have any junk food today.” Breaking your big, long-term goals into easy, specific things you can accomplish each day helps to keep yourself motivated and feel more in control of changing yourself. It can be easy to feel powerless to change yourself, but taking the process a day at a time can help you feel in charge of confronting the aspects of yourself you find less desirable. It changes the mindset that I, and many others have felt too often of “I’m unhappy with how things are, with how I am,” to “OK, so what am I going to do about it?”
Let me give you an example. At the end of high school, when asked what my career goals were, I replied that I wanted to be a rockstar, despite being scarcely involved in music up to that point. You can imagine the reaction I got. I knew that that goal is laughably difficult, but I resolved to do what I could since “wanting” it wasn’t getting me any closer. Freshman year, I took a voice class, joined the Men’s Chorus and took advantage of private help when I could. Over the summer, I spent a good portion of the money from my summer job to study with Dr. Seesholtz from the Music Department, and in the fall I took Music Theory and joined KCSU. At the end of 2014, had I accomplished my goal of becoming a rockstar? No, but I laid the foundation for future progress, and most importantly, gained the confidence and determination to pursue what makes me happy.
Resolutions can be a great way to push ourselves in the new year, as long as we can learn to appreciate the process of change for what it is. The point of resolutions isn’t so much the tangible change as it is embracing new habits and developing your psyche to believe that you have the power and determination to take on any challenge that enters your road to self-love and satisfaction. What journey are you on this year? What steps will you take today?
Collegian Columnist Sean Kennedy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @seanskenn.