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Rethinking Resolutions: How to Create Sustainable Change in 2024

Rethinking Resolutions: How to Create Sustainable Change in 2024

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 As the holiday season comes to a close, many of us start to think about our hopes for the new year. “This is the year,” we say, “I’m going to get in shape, stop spending all my money, and finally find ‘the one.’” We know all too well what kind of results follow: halfway through February (if we’re lucky), we’re slipping back into the same old habits. What gives?

Instead of setting lofty and unattainable resolutions, consider taking a more gentle approach. By setting kind, realistic goals for yourself, you can create a positive and sustainable change in your life. Read on to learn how to set and achieve practical New Year's resolutions, plus three examples, for a better 2024.

The Problem with Resolutions

woman tired of eating healthy and unsustainable goals

If you’ve dropped the ball on your self-improvement goals in the past, don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re not the odd one out, and in fact, it’s actually pretty rare to follow through. 

A 2023 study published in Forbes magazine found that the average resolution lasts, at most, 3.74 months, but some estimates suggest that 80% of people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions within 1. The short-lived nature of resolutions has become so engraved in our culture that the second Friday of January has been dubbed “Quitter’s Day.”

So, it’s not unusual to slip up, but what causes such low success rates? Psychologists believe that failure to keep New Year’s resolutions can be attributed to:
  • Vague goals: Resolutions tend to be abstract and lack direction. Wanting to “be more active,” for example, is more of a general desire than something we can take action on or even measure the success of. 
  • Overly specific and unrealistic goals: On the flip side, sometimes our goals are so specific that they are simply not sustainable. Life happens, and as it does, unforeseen circumstances can defer our resolutions. We have to be prepared for hiccups and spontaneity along the way. 
  • Lacking accountability: Besides sharing our resolutions on New Year’s Eve with friends, most of us don’t have a solid system for holding ourselves accountable. So, no harm no foul when we throw in the towel, right?
  • Our heart’s not in it: Let’s be honest- many resolutions are made for the sake of tradition or general social pressures.
Most of all, however, our goals fail when we engage in negative self-talk. Insulting yourself for not making progress won’t increase your motivation, but instead make you ask “Why even try?”

That being said, it may be best to redefine what a resolution really is. Resolution comes from the word resolve, which refers to one’s firm determination to do something (noun) or to find a solution to a problem (verb). So before you set any resolutions, remember what this word means. What problem are you determined to solve in your life?

Setting Attainable Goals

journaling woman

There are a billion tools out there to help you set achievable resolutions, such as the “S.M.A.R.T.” method of goal-setting. Let’s dive into the components of this helpful acronym. 

Let’s say you want to be more social in the new year. This, again, is simply a desire. To convert it into a SMART goal, define the specific outcome you want to achieve. “I want to make 10 new friends.” 

Then, think of ways to measure it. Maybe a new connection means 10 new contacts in your phone. That’s measurable. Also, honestly consider whether your goal is attainable. If you’re pretty introverted as it is, then maybe bump your goal down to 5 new connections. “Attainable” also relates to what actions you will take to accomplish your goal.

R stands for relevant. Is your goal relevant to what you value overall in your life? Value-oriented goals are backed by better motivation since our values guide and inform our behaviors. In the case of our example, maybe being more social fits in with your value for friendship.

Finally, let’s consider the time-bound part. The last thing you want to give a personal resolution, like eating healthier, is a deadline. This inevitably creates pressure and frustration. But a time-bound goal can still offer a way for you to break up your overall goal into manageable chunks. Maybe in one month, you’ll focus on simply getting out of the house more, and the next month you’ll accept that invitation to drinks with your coworkers. Take baby steps.

How to Follow Through

fitness tracking

So now your goal is more attainable, actionable, and maybe even “smarter.” But how do you follow through?

Give yourself a system of accountability.

If there’s someone you trust to gently encourage you, talk to them about your resolution and ask for their support. You can also just jot down your progress in a journal. Write reminders of why your resolution matters so you can look back at them when you’re feeling discouraged.

Control your surroundings. 

If your goal is saving up money, then maybe the mall isn’t the best place to kill time. You’re more likely to stick to your resolution when you aren’t putting yourself in situations where temptation is at its highest.

Practice self-compassion and patience.

Remember that you are only human and slip-ups will happen. As you do make progress, it will take time.

Finally, go for it. Slowly make the changes necessary to see your resolution come to fruition. 

3 Realistic Goals for 2024

So, now that we’ve covered how to set attainable goals and follow through on them, what are some examples of realistic resolutions for 2024? 

1. Practice Mindfulness:

woman meditating

We strongly believe that minding your mind is an important part of a balanced life, and practicing mindfulness is the first step in that journey. It's also a great goal for the new year because you can’t do it “wrong.” Mindfulness is simply a tool that teaches you to be present so you can learn to slow down, tune in, and appreciate the now. 

Practicing mindfulness will look different for everyone, but in general, you can start by setting aside 5 uninterrupted minutes every day for meditation and self-reflection. As you get into this habit, use a calendar to track your progress. If you’re constantly on edge, distracted, or beset by stress, this practice can help you cultivate a better mental and emotional state. 

2. Pursue Your Old Passions

painting

Another change to consider in the new year is to get back to doing what you love. With work, family, and everything else life throws at us, the hobbies and activities that we find enjoyment in tend to get pushed to the back burner. What if, in 2024, you started to carve out the space and time for yourself to pursue what you’re passionate about? 

The first action item would be to schedule some uninterrupted time for yourself each week. Think of a short-term passion project to kick things off during that period, like writing a short poem, painting a self-portrait, or running a few blocks (whatever is relevant to your interests). Then, take on a more challenging creative endeavor. 

As you do this, keep track through a planner, journal, or portfolio. You’ll slowly begin to find your groove again, and by the end of the year, have fully reconnected with your hobby. 

3. Get On A Healthy Sleep Schedule

clock next to man sleeping on his bed

With physical fitness being the most common resolution among Americans, you’d think there’d be more emphasis on the habits (aside from diet and exercise) that go into a good fitness routine

Sleep is an essential component of your body’s ability to recover from a workout and build up stamina. Why not prioritize fixing your sleep schedule so that you’re getting enough rest to support your fitness endeavors?

This resolution, like any other, can be tackled by first setting a specific goal for yourself. Generally, you need 8 hours of quality sleep, but this number will vary depending on your age and other factors. Set yourself a bedtime that ensures you’ve gotten enough sleep by the time your morning alarm goes off. At first, you might find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep, but trust the process!

You can use a sleep-tracking app or journal to monitor your progress, and in time find that your circadian rhythm has been “fixed.” You may not even need an alarm by the end of the year!

Final Thoughts

As you enter 2024, don’t carry the weight of impossible lifestyle changes and societal pressure on your shoulders. Instead, as you think of your resolutions, consider making sustainable changes that align with what matters most to you. 

We hope this article served as a platform for you to reconsider your New Year resolutions so they are more sustainable and kinder. Until next time, happy exploring, and Mind your Mind.

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