Reframing last year’s failed New Year’s resolutions

“Resolution number one: Give up coffee.” The number of times this failed resolution, along with many others, has seen my new year’s list borderlines on hilarity. Honestly, why do I keep scribbling down this resolution year after year?

There’s something about the terribly clichéd “new year, new me” phrase that rings true. As another year full of embarrassments and failed resolutions comes to a close, a new chapter begins — a fresh page, a blank slate that welcomes rejuvenated confidence and motivation.

For me, this usually means jotting down a boatload of brand new failure-bound resolutions, most of them the same ones I so confidently inscribed last year. And as I sit here chugging back the Folgers like there won’t even be a new year, I find myself pondering the reasons for why I can’t seem to stick to the same stupid resolutions. Am I just that unmotivated? Do I have to tattoo this list onto my forehead?

I think the key to transforming your scribbled goals into scripture is to focus not on what you aim for, but on how you aim for it. For example, I find that most of my resolutions are framed by negativity; they focus on what I shouldn’t do rather than what I’d like to do. When one commands oneself to “stop eating past midnight,” the focus is placed on one’s deficiency, which may cause anxiety-ridden defeat. Promising to “have your last meal at 8 o’clock” would allow for a more positive and motivational outlook on your aims.

Picking ourselves back up to give our resolutions another shot shows we have an underlying confidence.

Another piece of advice would be to set reasonable goals — focus on the process and not the outcome. For example, I can tell myself to “achieve an A+,” though a goal that tells me I should “work towards achieving an A+” would be far more appropriate. Resolutions focused on process reflect the realities of the work that we’ll have to undertake to successfully meet our objectives. We often underestimate or disregard this work, which leads to failed resolutions year after year.

One idea would be to limit the number of resolutions you make. A list of 25 objectives is, quite frankly, ridiculous, and can become overwhelming. How can we get through the year anxiety-free with a dauntingly extensive to-do list looming over our heads?

When we don’t meet our goals, we tend to lower our self-worth. But resolutions shouldn’t be burdens. Instead, they should be personal challenges that we look forward to. They’re goals that we set for ourselves to try to live in a healthier, more fulfilling way — for the most part, anyway.

Personally, I think these ideas are fantastic, no matter how many times we fail to achieve our goals. The fact that we keep picking ourselves back up to give our resolutions another shot shows an underlying confidence in ourselves — a glimmer of hope that one year we just might achieve what we set out to accomplish last year, and the year before, and the year before. . . you get the idea.

So try and re-frame your small list of resolutions to something a little more positive this year. Remember that , should you fail, there will be a new year to collect yourself and give them another chance. With any luck, 2015 just might be the year that I dump coffee down the drain for good.

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