9 Things To Know Before Setting New Year’s Resolutions

“A resolution involves [behavioural] change. When you set a resolution, you say, ‘I am going to change’,” said psychologist Senathi Fisha.

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By Gaby Ndongo (6 mins read)

Wondering how new year’s resolutions should be set? Try your best to consider every resolution as a goal made up of several components. This article shines light on those different parts.

1. Is it resilient?

Consider all the potential obstacles that may be in the way of you achieving that resolution. If it is still doable in the context of these obstacles, then it’s likely realistic enough for you to undertake. Then note it down where you know you’ll see it every day.

2. Is it inspiring for you?

The resolution must be something that you’re passionate about to inspire you not to quit when the going gets tough. Trying something new can also be inspiring.

It’s also a good idea to identify and work towards a resolution that is in line with your personal values.

(2) ‘success_ illustration by pexels
‘Success’ image by Pexels.

3. Is it specific?

A goal setting article in GRAD, a booklet for tertiary students, says it is important to ask yourself, “What exactly does it entail?” Other question that you can ask include, ‘What do I want to gain?’ ‘Is the resolution for my mental well-being or personal finance?’

Answers from these questions make your resolution more specific and lets you know about the type of resolution you’re getting into.

You find different kinds of resolution which can be seen as goals. Develop Good Habits, a lifestyle website that focuses on helping people with their “self-improvement”, identify seven types of goals:

  • Career goals can include gaining some work experience in a one year internship;
  • Financial goals are those that have to do with your money muscles: income, expenses and savings;
  • Personal development goals aim to make you a better person;
  • Spiritual goals can be religious in nature;
  • Educational goals involve your studies and other forms of intellectual development;
  • Relationship goals seek to improve your standing with others;
  • Physical, mental and health goals concern your physical and mental wellbeing, as well as your diet.

Having only one resolution may assist you in making your goals more specific. For instance, you could pay attention to fitness habits and so plan to exercise three times a week. If you have such a resolution in place, it is actionable and not abstract because you know exactly what to do.

4. What are the required resources?

Question yourself about the amount of free time you have and then set aside a few hours to get the goal-specific work done. You have to draw up a timetable that accommodates academic activities such as lectures and tutorials, as well as recreational activities.

GRAD advises that “time management . . . must be combined with energy management.” This is because “proper time management ensures that you do not waste this precious commodity. Energy management ensures that you get more done in the time available.”

It also helps when you break down your resolution into sub-goals (daily, weekly and monthly goals) to do things little-by-little continuously. Psychologist Senathi Fisha told  eNCA that leaving things until that last minute is risky. You never know what bad thing might happen to stop you from doing what you need to do.

Goals provide maps of where you want to be, define what needs to be done, create more clear expectations and provide some criteria for self-accountability.

Nevertheless, the maps should be holistic. This raises the need for your resolutions to accommodate all aspects of your student life, both academic and social.

Money is another factor because it helps fund most of what you need to engage in to achieve your resolution. But money cannot buy everything, so it will help to find some assistance in your circle of friends.

5. What is its importance?

Understand the importance of your resolution. What are the objectives? How relevant are these objectives to your studies and/or career? This understanding will be a huge motivating factor.

The resolution becomes necessary if it forms part of your long term goals. A good set of distinctions in first-year will make you a prospective bursary recipient, securing your studies and medium term career plans of completing your degree.

Self-growth should be on top of your list of goals. This means that whatever you aim for must benefit you and should not be about impressing other people or making them jealous. This is why you need to be honest with yourself and be realistic.

(4) ‘planning_ illustration by pexels
‘Planning’ illustration by Pexels.

6. Have you planned, put a system in place?

“The other thing is, in a resolution, there is a system,” Fisha explained during the eNCA interview.

The psychologist made an example of a new year’s resolution involving going to the gym for fitness. Before doing so, one needs to plan, for example, the means of transportation, gym membership fees and refreshments.

In other words, know what measures need to be in place for you to achieve your resolution. So, plan and have a system in place before embarking on that journey. Time management is a vital part of planning, not to forget the finances you have disposable.

As the saying goes that “time is money”, procrastination is therefore not good for proper financial and time management. Remember that the more available time and funds you have on you, the greater the opportunities of bringing to life that resolution.

7. A change of behaviour

“A resolution involves [behavioural] change. When you set a resolution, you say, ‘I am going to change,’ and therefore, it needs you to rewire your brain . . . the way you think, to be positive, to be ready for that (resolution),” Fisha explained.

In a study of 213 adults conducted and published as the Ringing in the new year: The change process and reported outcomes of resolutions, it was identified that “behavioural strategies . . . less self-blame and wishful thinking” made resolutions more attainable.

(5) ‘stay focused_ image by pexels
‘Stay focused’ image by Pexels.

8. You are human

Be flexible.

According to Fisha, only 8% of people accomplish their resolutions with a large portion struggling to stick to the plan. Hence, the need for perseverance.

You need to understand that things may not fall perfectly into place, but the aim is to learn from your mistakes and then keep on going forward.

It will be ideal to regularly keep track of your progress in a journal or spreadsheet. For those daily goals, ask yourself at the end of the day, “Have I achieved them today?”

Keeping your body active through exercising and eating as healthy as possible are necessary to help you have a body that is productive enough for that resolution. Rewarding yourself after completing a sub-goal is a great way to motivate yourself.

Keep in mind that it is not compulsory to start your resolution on the 1st of January; one can start even in February to have enough planning time, for instance.

9. Speak to someone about it

A sibling or close friend may provide you with some insight into your resolution. They are the third-party whose take will come from an understanding point of view. But if you have a mentor, approach them for their opinion.

Sharing a resolution with a roommate or a family member can come in-handy as they will be a source of support, advice, cheers and accountability. At times, you will have to find someone to tag along. TOJ


Updated and republished on Thursday, 9th January 2020. Reporting by Gaby Ndongo; Editing by Xiletelo Mabasa. Feature image: ‘Resolutions’ image. Image courtesy to Pexels.


1 comments on “9 Things To Know Before Setting New Year’s Resolutions”

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