Make New Year resolutions and keep them
by Peter Tan. Posted on December 28, 2014, Sunday
YEAR 2015 is just around the corner. I have a feeling that other than the justification for merry-making, the New Year is an excuse to sweep unfulfilled resolutions under the carpet and begin again on a clean slate, just like pressing the reset button in a video game.
Brooding over what could have been will not change anything. Those who have not achieved what they have set out to do certainly welcome this opportunity. It allows them to let go of plans that did not pan out for the year and start afresh.
I no longer make resolutions specifically only during the New Year. Rather, I make action plans for my work and advocacy activities as and when needed. Both are goal-settings. The principles are the same – they both lead to positive outcomes, be it for ourselves or for the people around us.
Now that I am in the business of teaching participants of the Disability Equality Training workshops that I conduct to make action plans, I am in a position to see why many of us do not carry through our resolve.
We set lofty goals and attempt to tackle them without defining the strategies and structures to accomplish them.
Here I would like to share some tips from the workshops that have helped the participants make more effective and achievable actions plans.
They are adapted for making New Year resolutions.
Plan ahead. The old adage ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’ still rings true. Do not wait until the very last minute to come up with a resolution. Take some time to mull it over and think it through because if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well.
Begin with the end in mind. Being able to visualise the goal makes us understand better the direction that we have to take. This allows us to focus our energy on what needs to be done. Sometimes, there may be obstacles along the way. If we know where we are heading, we will not lose our way.
Start small. There is a tendency to cramp several resolutions into one year with over-idealistic goals. It’s better to decide on one which is achievable within the timeframe of 365 days and work on it; than having too many on the plate and not knowing which to work on first. We know our own potentials and limitations best. The goal must be realistic and viable. It’s better to be able to realise a smaller goal than to be overwhelmed by a bigger one. For bigger goals, break them into smaller components and timeframes. Looking at it in its entirety can be intimidating, while seeing them in fractions makes them appear doable. It’s like preparing for an exam. Studying one chapter a day is more effective than going through the entire book of twenty chapters at one go.
Motivation and commitment. The two are the most difficult parts in this entire process. We will somehow falter halfway when the excitement dies off. Therefore, it’s important to keep reminding ourselves the reason why we are doing what we are doing.
I found it effective to draw up a chronological plan, detailing each step to be taken leading to the goal. The plan is then pasted somewhere visible to me most of the time, like at the workstation or at places where I spend a lot of my time.
Like-minded friends. Where possible, find them. They can be strong motivating factors. Better still if they have similar resolutions to realise. It will be mutually beneficial to join forces with them to constantly push each other to reach that common goal together.
Having said all that, even the most well-laid plan can miss the mark. I am no stranger to failure in achieving the goals I set not for the lack of trying.
Sometimes, circumstances are just not in our favour. That is not the end of the world. These are valuable lessons that teach us what do not work and allow us to find other ways that do.
Goal setting and accomplishing it are skills that improve with practice and experience. Over time, when we have internalised the methods, we can move on to bigger goals with ease. I see it like baking a cake. As a novice, we follow the instructions in the recipe to the dot.
Over time, we can do it without breaking a sweat and the cake will still turn out to be as good – if not better.
Before we ring out the old year with a hearty chorus of Auld Lang Syne with family and friends, let us take stock of where we are now, the one aspect of our life that we want to change for the better and make plans to achieve it. I can assure you that by following those tips, you are already halfway there.
Here is wishing you a Happy New Year and success with your resolutions!
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