You just realized that it's going to be a brand new year in a few more days and you have not come up with new plans yet. Whether you like it or not, it's time to perform the ritual that many of us probably hate - making new year's resolutions. So you whip out some paper and a pen, ponder over the successes and mistakes you made this year and start scribbling down some big hairy goals for the new year. Within a few sips of expresso, you finish your ritual and thankfully paste that list of new year resolutions behind some Post-It notes on your wall (to keep it out of sight). Then you check your watch. Phew, you are just in time for the new epsiode of Mad Men.
But wait. In your hurry to make new year resolutions , you could have committed the following 3 mistakes that will render this activity a complete waste of time.
- Make More Than 3 Resolutions
Do you make a long list of resolutions every year but fail to achieve even half of them? Many of us do that as a form of self-delusion. We tend to think that by over-committing ourselves, we can make up for the time lost in not achieving the goals we have set for ourselves so far. We fail to realize that by doing so, we place a huge amount of pressure on ourselves to do more than are often realistically possible. As a result, we feel overwhelmed and tend to procrastinate. This inadvertently leads to a series of disappointments and ultimately another unfulfilling year. I was a victim of this way of thinking, which is why I have adopted the "less is more" philosophy in making new year's resolutions. My advice is: keep your new year resolutions to a maximum of 3 items (there is no magic number; '3' happens to be figure that I find easy to use and remember. Some research indicates that our brain can memorize no more than 7 items well at any time, but I'll say you should just keep your list to no longer than 5 items) Simply decide on the top 3 most important goals you wish to achieve in the coming year and just focus on them!
- Don't Come Up With A System To Track Your Goals
Wonder why this year is going to end the same way as the previous year (many of you are going to nod your heads on this one)? That's because we didn't track our goals as regularly as we could. Either we didn't have a good system to do that or we were too lazy to come up with one. Life throws many distractions at us and before we know it, we have come to the end of another year with little accomplishments to our names. To free yourself from the vicious cycle, devise a system that allows you to track your goals easily. If you are using several software applications to keep track of various goals in your life, try to keep them to a minimum. It's easier to stick to one or two applications over the long run. Maintaining too many applications at the same time will gradually kill the motivation to track your goals regularly. I use an iPhone app called iMapMyRun (created by MapMyFitness) to keep track of my running workouts . For most of the other goals, I track them in a spreadsheet provided by Google Docs so that I can easily update the document as long as I have a computer and Internet access. Remember, simplicity is often the best solution to many of life's problems.
- Make New Year's Resolutions (AM I KIDDING?)
I reckon this one will make you scratch your head (or even shock you, as promised). You might be wondering - what is this guy saying? Isn't this article about making new year's resolutions? After reading the previous two points, some of you might realise that new year's resolutions is not the just the thing for you. Maybe you are the kind of person who prefers a more laissez-faire way of living and do not want goals or resolutions to have such a huge control over your life. You want to derive satisfaction by living in the now! Then by all means, ditch new year's resolutions and goals! You'll avoid setting up yourself for disappointments. As an alternative, decide what is your broad focus next year, e.g. I want to explore the field of fashion design, and let that guide you on the decisions you'll be making. Be open to new paths and ideas and allow room for serendipitous discoveries to take place!
I hope by reading this article, you'll avoid what I think are the most important but seldom mentioned mistakes people commit when they make new year's resolutions. May the new year be an exciting and prosperous one for you!