A new year arrives and, with it, something inevitable: the illusion of a new beginning , the desire to undertake projects that make us improve as people and break with the problems of the past, the desire to leave behind habits that we do not like…
In short, the new year’s resolutions are coming.
What New Year’s resolutions are you going to make?
To what extent these exciting ideas are more imaginative or more realistic depends more on us, our capabilities and the desire we put into them. However, there is another factor to take into account: the possibility of using what we know about the human mind to make our new goals easier to achieve.
Or what is the same, the option of knowing and applying certain psychological tricks to face in the best conditions the challenges that will come.
Here are 7 keys that will help you get a little closer to that future “I” that you want to become.
Specify your objectives
It is common to create New Year’s resolutions that are too abstract or ambiguous to be pursued. For example, wishes such as “I want to be freer” or “I’m going to learn more” often come to nothing precisely because we don’t even know what specific objectives we should reach. What does it mean to be free? What do we want to learn?
That is why it is important that, right from the start, we have clear, rather concrete goals . This will, on the one hand, ensure that we have consistent objectives over time (which will allow us to get closer to them and not to other “distractions”) and, on the other hand, will make it possible to assess as objectively as possible whether we have fulfilled our New Year’s resolutions or not.
2. Create intervals
In the previous point we have talked about the importance of detailing as much as possible the objectives or sub-objectives we want to reach. However, once this is done, we can transform these concrete goals into intervals with a maximum and a minimum value that mark what we consider acceptable. For example, if we want to lose weight, it is better to set the sub-target of losing between 1.2 kg, and 0.8 kg every two weeks than to set the goal of losing 1 kg every two weeks.
This is because there is evidence that if we set goals in intervals, we perceive them as more achievable and more motivating.
3. Plan short-term goals
This step, in fact, serves not to always leave for tomorrow the tasks that, to achieve your New Year’s resolutions, you must start today . This will be an almost irresistible temptation if you don’t set intermediate goals (between your current situation and the end of the year to come) at very specific times in the calendar, but if you divide your personal development plans into several pieces and distribute them into small daily or weekly goals, it will be much easier to achieve your objectives.
For that, there is nothing like setting yourself well established schedules and setting short deadlines to reach your small personal goals.
4. Use a physical calendar
Having a physical calendar and putting it in a place you see very often is important because… it’s more important to get away from it! If your calendar is digital, you can probably only see it if you want to, by clicking on certain buttons. On the other hand, a paper calendar with annotations and dates marked with bright colors is harder to ignore . Even if you want to.
5. Start your New Year’s Plan now
Several studies suggest that New Year’s Eve and the first days of January are a unique date to start seriously with your projects. The reason is that in this small period of time, and not in another, people tend to consider that we have changed by the fact of having passed through that temporal border that is New Year’s Eve and, therefore, we think that it is easier to “unlearn old habits and adopt others while we are in those days.
It is something like a window of opportunity that opens in our calendar and could make us less likely to resist change. Possibly this also occurs on a larger time scale: according to research, people whose last digit ends in 9 (29, 39, etc.) have a greater desire to undertake new projects and give their lives a new meaning .
Knowing this is important, because although it is to some extent irrational and unconscious, we can take advantage of it in a very rational way. The method is simple: if we are predisposed to stop thinking about ourselves as people chained to their habits, we better start adopting new habits right then and there. This will make the transition to this new way of behaving more comfortable and more likely to succeed.
6. Take advantage of group pressure
In the field of psychology it has long been known that group pressure is capable of raising our capacity to make very significant efforts . For example, psychological therapy programs for quitting smoking tend to be more successful if they are carried out in group sessions, and the performance of athletes also improves when they make an effort alongside other people who are doing the same thing, even though they are not theoretically competing with each other.
That’s why it’s a good idea to share your New Year’s resolutions with other people, and for them to do the same, to share their aspirations. This will create a kind of contract around these promises that will be harder to break and will make us walk away from the tempting possibility of throwing in the towel.
7. Make an assessment of the past year
This part may seem less exciting and exciting than the task of setting goals and imagining the future that lies ahead, but it is also very necessary. Why? Because allows us to make sense of the idea of setting new year’s objectives , or what is the same, to make us see as something interesting the option of setting new objectives again, at the moment when a new period of our lives begins, as we are used to taking this as a serious and important project.
In addition, of course, this will allow us to see our progress in certain areas of personal development, which is very motivating and will make us look forward to the challenges ahead.