Why we need to be flexible with our New Year’s Resolutions

Towards the end of every year, it is customary to reassess our priorities, take stock of the year that was, and plan for the year to come. The emergence of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic and global lockdowns disrupted our daily routine and our lifestyle altogether, throwing most plans and resolutions out the window!

Does that mean that planning is no longer helpful? Or does it mean that setting long term goals is no longer relevant?

Not at all – all it means is that we need to progress in our approach to planning.

A big lesson that we can learn from the lockdowns of 2020 is that we need to embrace an approach that works with the times – as we continue adapting our habits to the “new normal”. 

Going forward, we need to determine how to set flexible resolutions. 

With flexible goals, we need to remain aware of a broader spectrum of possible scenarios. 

Here’s why.

Timelines have changed

Traditional goal-setting strategies generally employ a timeline, and when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, the timelines are often constrained within a year. Partly because we sometimes make these things up on the spot and assume that we have plenty of time to achieve them, and partly because we’ve put pressure on ourselves to see measurable change within a shorter period of time. 

Taking the time to review resolutions and sensibly deciding on them is a good idea. But, an even better view can be to create a larger goal – like a 5- or 10-year goal, which can be engaged with in stages each year.

So perhaps, instead of saying “I want to lose weight this year”, consider a longer-term plan for your overall health. A first priority for the first 12 months could be committing to a healthy meal plan. For year two, you’ll continue eating healthily but could include exercise. As you engage with each stage of the plan, you will slowly start to see the next mini-goals become apparent and shape the long-term goal.

New Year’s Resolutions are often not relevant to us

New Year’s Resolutions are popular conversational trends at the beginning of the year with many of us feeling like we need to ‘follow the crowd’. As a result, we are prone to setting goals that have little or no personal gratification or inherent value; we set ourselves up for failure.

When we make goals – they need to make sense to us and be achievable to our current life stage.

All the legendary athletes, artists and academics who have inspired us had to face failure and unexpected challenges along their journeys. Often, their success has been linked to their ability to ‘roll with the punches’ and their ability to be flexible when plans change.

This is why we need to be flexible with our resolutions. Always remind yourself that a happier life does not depend on achieving your resolutions, but it’s about enjoying the journey and gaining valuable lessons as you work towards them.

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