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How to keep New Year’s resolutions?

In only a few hours we will be celebrating the new year. The first month of the year, January, is named after the roman god of beginnings, transitions, duality, doorways, passages, frames and endings, Janus. In a way, the start of January symbolizes an end, and a doorway to a new beginning.

It is widely known that most people’s resolutions don’t last very long (in fact, most articles online also assume your resolutions for last year failed miserably). Had this year been a failure or not, if you wish to stay consistent with your resolutions in the future, here are a couple tips that might help.

A new beginning is a motivation to take ourselves somewhere new and better, just like when we wake up in the morning and we usually expect to have reached a set of goals by the end of the day. The fact that we insist in setting resolutions for the new year means we are acknowledging that we have the agency to improve our lives in the long term, and that’s a very thrilling idea.

Writing down your resolutions can help you stay accountable. It is also important to be smart and have a feasible plan. This year, you can try setting SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound; it was coined in 1981 in the journal Management Review.

  • Specific. be very clear about what you want. It’s the difference between saying “I want to travel more”, versus, “I’m going to save x amount of money every month to go on vacation to Japan this autumn”.

  • Measurable. For this, try keeping a journal, or using an app where you can track your progress can be a motivating way to keep yourself accountable. If you want to get better at drawing, you can for instance write down the amount of hours you practiced every month and keep your favorite piece from that month so that you can see the progress you made by the end of the year. Try also putting reminders of your goals somewhere visible. An aesthetically pleasing way you can do this is by using a vision board, or simply keeping a list of daily, weekly or monthly, objectives on your wall or in a section of your agenda you tend to check regularly.

  • Relevant. Did you pick the right resolution? Of course, it’s important to ask yourself if this resolution is about something that matters, something you can control, that it doesn’t interfere with your other goals that you consider more important. Ask yourself what you want your future life to look like, and ideally set goals that are coherent with that vision. Feeling uninspired? If you search on Google for "New Year’s Resolutions for [the topic you are interested in]", you’ll most likely find a long list of articles giving you dozens of ideas. There is something for everyone: artists, geeks, plant moms…

  • Achievable and Time-bound. Both your goal and the time you give yourself to reach it should be realistic. The deadline should also not be pushed too far in the future if the task doesn’t require it.

Happy New Year from the TEDxEcublens team!

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