Why resolutions may not be the answer

It's that time of year again. The new year, new me wave is about to wash over us. Whether it’s to have more work-life balance, exercise more, eat 'better' or stay more connected to friends and family, it’s easy to feel a sudden urge to set extravagant goals and ambitions for next year. But what if the reflection that is often framed quite critical, was shifted in a more positive light? What if it became less about all the things we need or want to change, to all the opportunities we could have or could even create? What if it became less about what we should stop doing and more about the amazing things we have done?


When we measure our success, we often measure the things that are tangible, for example, the achievements and the goals we succeeded in. These are often the things that we received external validation and gratification for. The problem with these things is that there are so many external factors that can contribute to whether we achieve those goals or not, especially during the period of a global pandemic. Despite what actions we take, there is only so much within our control as to whether we achieve the goal. For example, if you have set yourself the goal to exercise more, this will be heavily dependent on how your workday goes, personal stressors that arise, times/spaces available for classes, and more. Instead of putting pressure on ourselves to reach targets, we can change our focus of 2022 to be about internal things we can control, such as who we spend our time with and how we manage our thought processes. This adjustment can reduce distractions and help create more control over our bigger desires. Before we spend a few hundred dollars on the next detox cleanse, jump into the new routine too hard and fast or if you are simply wanting to reflect on the year, consider the below:


  1. What were some of the most enjoyable parts of this year?

When we start to set resolutions, we tend to get caught in the distraction of what we “should” be doing or even what we think we want to do. When in fact, it may not actually be true to us and something we will be motivated by and find fulfilment in. It is important to reflect on the points of the year where we felt the most connected to ourselves. What were you doing? Who were you around? How did you feel and how were you making the people around you feel? Once we know the emotions we are chasing, and what context this provides, we can begin to envision and set goals about being in that context as much as possible.


  1. What was your biggest achievement this year? What was your biggest challenge?

How did you achieve this or work through it? Was there external or internal validation or distraction present? Or both? What behaviours and habits contributed to making this possible? Who were the people that supported you? What barriers came up and how did you manage them? What personal strengths did you utilise to get there? Reflecting on what new skills you developed this year and perhaps what skills you would like to develop also shift the focus onto personal enhancement as opposed to change.


  1. What kind of person do you want to be in the new year?

Not what goals or achievements you want to have ticked off, but who do you want to be and how do you want to be viewed by others? These things can be controlled by us and don’t have the dependency of other external factors that goals have. By bringing the focus back to your values and the internal drivers, we maintain more control in whether we do achieve the things we want to and ensure we stay true to ourselves and what is important to us.


  1. What parts of you and this year do you want to carry into 2022?

Don’t forget to reflect on the positive elements of yourself and your life that you are proud of and want to maintain. New year’s resolutions can often make us feel as though there are many things wrong and that there is a lot we need to change and can therefore sometimes dismiss the positive qualities and actions we are already doing. Reflecting on something new we may have learnt about ourselves can also provide an avenue for a new goal or a new ambition that may not have been possible previously. What was the nicest thing you did for someone else this year? What was the nicest thing you did for yourself? Why do these two things stand out?


By Emma Sanelli, Wellness Consultant at SOF