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New Year Resolutions Vs Goals Setting

Updated: May 17, 2021

In a previous post, I have shared the rituals of making new year resolutions. On December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking backward into the old year and forward into the newyear. This became a symbolic time for Romans to make resolutions on 1 Jan.

There are plenty scientific reasons from psychologists and social science researchers about the high failure rate in keeping new year resolutions made on 1 Jan. Some say we should start when we are ready, not on 1 Jan. Some say we believed self-change is easy and we set high expectations that are not achievable and realistic (the False Hope Syndrome).

Resolutions are statements of intention, while goals are statements of commitment. One way to set goals is to make it SMART:

  • Specific. Your resolution should be clear and concrete. Your goal could be "jogging 30 min each day" instead of "exercise more".

  • Measurable. Record progress into a journal or making notes on your phone or in an app designed to help you track can reinforce the progress.

  • Achievable. Start small and make small wins. You can always adjust your goals and make it higher.

  • Relevant. A goal that really matters to you will give you motivation to make it last.

  • Time-bound. Giving yourself reasonable time to do it and keep track.

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