For quite some time now, I have noticed this one particular “meme” on numerous social media platforms. As funny as it may be, I believe it speaks a lot about human motivation and cynicism.
At first I didn’t read into it so much…but then I found myself wondering about this meme from time to time. It attacks a generic convention: the New Year’s resolution. Growing up I had always set myself resolutions, whether I intended to achieve them or not, I set them based on my wants and expectations of the next year. I usually based it on negative experiences that had occurred the year before, hoping that these same things wouldn’t happen to me in the new year. Things like: not achieving a high grade in a course or not being able to make a school sports team.
Looking back now, I’m embarrassingly unsure if I ever did achieve a New Year’s resolution all those years. But that wasn’t what was bothering my 270km/hr thoughts. What was bothering my racing thoughts was that instead of encouraging someone in your life to achieve their sometimes ambitious New Year’s resolutions, people found it somewhat comforting to discourage them. Why is there so many more memes of discouragement than there are memes of encouragement. I suppose part of it is for entertainment purposes alone, however, these things tend to stick.
My Genius Friends
One day, I was cruising through my news feed on Facebook and I came across a TED Talks article
which caught my attention immediately because it seemed to be offering an answer to my questions regarding the New Year’s resolution. Not only would it enlighten me, but also assist me in creating my own New Year’s resolution this year, which I had been delaying. (I’ll get to the article later in the post, look for subheading: TED Talks
) However, before I had even stumbled upon this article, I had asked numerous friends of mine to answer a few questions regarding New Year’s resolutions. These were the questions I asked:
1) Do you believe in New Year’s resolutions?
2) Have you set a New Year’s resolution for 2017?
3) What is your New Year’s Resolution? If you don’t have one, why not?
4) If you do have one, why did you set this resolution?
My friends were happy to oblige and the answers trickled in slowly one after the other. I wasn’t entirely focused on what their resolutions were, but more so on their attitude towards the idea. To my pleasant surprise, a lot of my friends said that the New Year mark was not usually a time when they set a new goal, rather, they set smaller, more achievable goals throughout the year and didn’t find that one day in the year determined their path for the rest of the year. Some of my friends said that leaving it for one day was putting too much pressure on yourself and setting yourself up for failure. They also felt that, in order to be a better version of themselves, they did not need to rely on a set time, rather they felt they should perceive it as a journey over a course of a lifetime. It was also widely believed amongst my friends that if there was a change they felt they needed to make, that they should commit to making this change immediately as opposed to waiting for a new year.
I realize that my friends are more or less going through similar experiences in life as they are and tend to be around the same age, so maybe my findings might be different if I approached a younger or much older group of people. However, reading the TED Talks article I mentioned above truly put things in perspective and I’ll go over it briefly below.
I won’t summarize the article, but I will say this: if you want to set goals, regardless of whether you choose to set them at the beginning of the year, or throughout the year, always start by setting yourself smaller achievable goals that lead to your bigger goal. For example, if getting back to the gym or watching your diet are your New Year’s resolutions, then start small. Allow yourself the time to gradually build to your eventual goal of being fit and eating clean. As mentioned in the article, it’s the small choices we make on a regular basis that lead us eventually to our bigger goal.
Upon soul searching for what is right and what I want for myself in this new year, I came across a daunting reality. I had definitely gained weight over the last two years. And although mid-year last year, I had started going to the gym regularly and watching my diet, somewhere along the line I let it go, and never picked it up again. That was months ago, and not a single day has gone by where I have not thought about why I let things go. Recently, on a bad day, I reached out to one of my closest friends and explained my frustration with myself. At that moment, I realized the importance of a support group. Even if your support group isn’t working out or prepping meals with you, it is still someone who keeps you accountable for your smaller goals. You can call or message them when you’re feeling weak or not particularly motivated. In a sense, it’s a check system, and it will help to achieve your goals with ease.
Take Advantage of Social Media
Last year when I started working out, I thought to myself: “What do I enjoy doing, that could help me to achieve my fitness goals?”, and I found myself connecting social media with my fitness goals. It was easier and it was something that held me accountable. I would post about my daily progress on my social media accounts and it became a way of logging my days. It was a good exercise because my friends encouraged my change in activity and it was helpful and motivational. Now, I’m not saying every goal you have should be documented, however, what I am saying is that you can take something you enjoy, for example, photography, and use it to achieve other goals, as a source of positive reinforcement.
Goals = Fun
Setting goals can be fun and does not need to be a chore. Find ways to get closer to your goals in an exciting way. We have so many resources at the touch of a button, do some research that will allow you to think outside the box and learn new things at the same time. If you find yourself not particularly excited for a goal you set, then perhaps that may not be something you want to achieve in life.
What are some ways in which you work towards a goal? Do you reward yourself occasionally? Comment below! I would love to know!