It's the end of December, and the time has come when millions of people around the world look back on the year just gone and think about the one to come. Usually, this involves some goal-setting as we review the life we're currently living and match it up to the one we wish we had. As a natural introvert and planner, I absolutely love it. But that doesn't mean it is easy.
How do you keep a New Year’s Resolution? Where does the motivation come from, and how can you harness it for 2016? Many of the resolutions we have are the same – hundreds of thousands of people will be pledging to lose weight, be more positive, and save up their hard-earned money. And every year, hundreds of thousands of people will fail to keep their promises. Why?
When we pledge to do something we are making an addition to our already busy lives. We are promising to do something that will undoubtedly disrupt our routine or force an alteration to a long-held habit. In a life full to the brim of demands, we are demanding something more. It’s no wonder that so often this doesn’t work. Instead, try something different – frame your goal as a negative.
Instead of resolving to DO something next year, think about something you won’t do. Remove one thing from your life. By shifting your mind-set in this way your goal is not expressed as a vague aim, but a direct set of behaviours – specific, measurable, and achievable. Your goal is not the what, but the how.
For example, instead of making the promise “I will lose weight,” say instead “I will not snack after 8pm.” You now have a specific goal which still enables you to meet your original aim, plus you have time on your hands after 8pm that would otherwise have been spent eating! Or, instead of saying “I will save money,” you could instead frame your resolution as “I will not buy from online stores” – you are now saving money by shopping less often, and supporting local businesses when you do. For my part, I promise to not do more than half an hour of overtime per day. Rather than “trying to get a better work-life balance,” this forces me to be specific with how I will achieve my goal.
As the New Year approaches we are all given a chance to reflect on what has happened and what will come. It is pleasant to think only of positives, but by thinking of (and removing) the negatives, we can slowly refine our lives and celebrate the beauty that is left.