How time flies! The end of the year is already in sight. December is usually a good time in the year to take a moment to reflect on the year behind us and start looking forward to the New Year, make plans, set some personal goals. For many, the beginning of a New Year is usually the time to set New Year’s resolutions! What about you? Are you amongst the 40% or so who will set new year´s resolutions? Have you already reflect on your good intentions for this year? Did you achieve them? Have you also already thought about some potential resolutions or personal goals for next year?
Do you also fancy resolutions like: I want to avoid stress and live a more relaxed life, I want to spend more time with my family or finally take up sports again? Start a new diet, stop smoking or drink less alcohol are also popular plans for the New Year, according to a Forsa survey. In professional life, goals can look like this: I don’t want to be so sluggish anymore or I want to take on new tasks and projects. So, as you can see, there are tons of good resolutions to make. If you haven´t been successful reaching your goals for this year, here are some useful tipps, what you could do to be more successful next year!
Honesty is the best policy
New Year’s resolutions are actually nothing different then self-imposed goals. The essential question that you should ask yourself is, how do I achieve these goals? And right there, the challenge begins. It’s all about the question: Why do I set myself these goals? Does my spouse want me to stay healthy or invest more into my career and get more salary, or do I want that? Only when the intrinsic Motivation (your own, inner motivation) is given, then the intent could have a chance of success. In order to achieve your goals, you need to put in lots of effort and personal energy. You have to 100% committed to your own intent in order to take on the according inconveniences and also to accomplish your goal effectively.
Every year Groundhog Day
You know the game: Same procedure as every year. On 31st December the good intentions are made and forgotten no later than 2nd January. The reason might be that the resolution may be a bit too generic, because the success of resolutions also depends on where they stem from. Resolutions that formulate something new are more successful than those that express one’s avoidance. e.g. the resolution “I won’t eat sweets anymore.” is likely to be less successful than “I will eat more fruit”.
Good goals are SMART!
That the groundhog has no chance to dilute your resolutions and goals, it also helps to record the good intentions in writing. The following so-called SMART method helps you to achieve your goals to formulate certain criteria:
It is important to the success of the new intentions to assure you are setting concrete goals. “I want to do more sport” that is not concrete enough. You will surely push that goal always in front of you according to the motto: “The year is still long. I am too busy right now. I will do it later in the year!” If you write down a concrete and detailed goal like “I want to join a gym, register in the Yoga beginners’ course on Tuesday in a weeks’ time” the success of your good intent is much more likely.
Measurable goals mean that you identify exactly what it is you will see, hear and feel when you reach your goal. It means breaking your goal down into measurable elements. You’ll need concrete evidence. Being happier is not evidence; not smoking anymore because you adhere to a healthy lifestyle where you eat vegetables twice a day and fat only once a week, is.
The goal must be acceptable, attractive, or motivating. What can you do with your yoga skills? For example, going on a great holiday trip to a Yoga retreat, join your best friends at their yoga professional course or even to take a professional break to be trained as a yoga teacher? Make your goal as attractive as possible.
Your goals should not be utopias, but represent achievable future prospects. Let´s stick with the yoga example for a moment: You will not be able to bring your yoga skills up to the level of yoga master within a year. Do not overburden yourself with your goals.
Indefinite terms of time such as “in this Year” let your good intentions fail very quickly. Set clear time periods, for example, the summer course from April till July. In this way, you create a time commitment for yourself. Make a tentative plan of everything you do. Everybody knows that deadlines are what makes most people switch to action. So install deadlines for yourself and go after them. Keep the timeline realistic and flexible, that way you can keep morale high.
There is still the “inner bastard”
The “inner bastard”, yes, we all know that too well. The “inner bastard” stands for old habits, which do not want to be expelled or are coming back quickly. Psychologists and Brain researchers have found out how old habits in our brain are so stable and why it is so hard to change them. First of all, the good news: The bastard can be tricked! One of the tricks would be: Instead of the old habit you must establish a new habit that really is anchored in the brain. So, for example instead of putting your feet’s up after work you need to establish a new routine to put on your runners or go to the gym. Even though that sounds so easy it’s really hard to do that. According to the researcher this “conversion process” could at least six months. However, your motto should be: persevere and fight! Unfortunately, without discipline and a firm will you will not reach the goal. You have to get on the often-stony way in order to make significant changes in your life or behaviour pattern. If you are being aware of this it makes it less of a problem.
The weak moments
For the weak moments which are for sure coming on your journey every now and then, it is important to retrieve the very good reasons why you want to change something and remind yourself about them. Make sure you reward yourself for an exhausting week in the office for example with a wellness day. In that example you can also link your several good intentions maybe with each other, in this case more commitment at work, new projects and on the other side more balance for your health. It has also an additional effect: The more positive emotions are associated with an action, the easier it will be for you to fulfil them and with less mental resistance. So, you see, the vicious circle with the bastard can break through.
Not too much at once
Also, keep in mind that you do not set too many goals at once. Scientists have found that the implementation capacity is limited. It’s not a surprise if you cannot achieve five parallel goals. Have a think and prioritize your goals. Make yourself also aware of possible conflicting goals (e.g. if you want to get a bigger role in your job, more challenging etc and on the other side increase your time spend with your family etc). With that, you can avoid failures!
Often, you cannot achieve the goals or resolutions you have set for yourself. Good company and support, for example, from a social community or professional coaching, can be helpful in achieving your goals.
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We hope that we have given you a brief overview of the subject of “good intentions”. Even if you are not one of the 40% who make resolutions, it makes sense to examine your own goals, wishes and thoughts for the future.