Treat Yourself: How to Actually Accomplish Your New Year’s Resolutions



Art by Ben Clark

Art by Ben Clark


Now that the New Year is a couple weeks old, we begin to see the tradition of people falling off the “resolution wagon.” If you notice this within yourself, take a moment to pat yourself on the back—Congratulations! You’re in the company of normalcy.

Most people have a difficult time sticking to grandiose promises they made to themselves months before they felt obligated to put them into effect. If you’re anything like me, big goals like “exercise every day” or “drink less coffee” or “hand in all your assignments before the deadline” can be pretty daunting. Once you’ve convinced yourself there’s no way you’re going to accomplish anything, you feel entirely unmotivated to even try. (Still with me?) Because of this, New Year’s Resolutions can feel especially guilt ladden -another candy-coated excuse to beat yourself up. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Most people don’t keep their New Year’s resolutions, myself included. So for 2015, I made myself just one promise: Instead of making resolutions for the year, I would make them for the day. These tiny resolutions are actually called “short term goals” and they can contribute to your “long term goals” (i.e. the resolutions you assumed you wouldn’t keep.)

According to Stanford University, short term goals contribute to long term goals. They break down seemingly impossible tasks into more manageable chunks. For example, a short term goal for “drink less coffee” could be “drink tea in the morning instead of coffee every day for one week,” and a short term goal for “hand in all assignments ahead of deadlines” could be “plan out the entire week’s schedule on Sunday.” If you slip up, and your day isn’t as productive or successful as you wanted it to be, fret not! Short term goals you plan in advance can easily be moved from one day to the next. So if you wanted to exercise every day this week but you didn’t have time to on Monday, plan your Tuesday schedule so you can walk for a little longer, or take two exercise classes instead of one—for me, it’s Zumba.

Whatever goals you decide on, remember that the most important part of setting goals is trying not to overwhelm yourself. These are decisions you make for yourself, and even if you think your reasons are good, nothing is worth sacrificing your mental, physical, or overall health for. Don’t forget to give yourself down time, too! Discover a new band, re-read a favorite book, immerse yourself in deliciously scented bath products. Find your happy place and give yourself permission to hang out there, even if it means you don’t get to everything on your to-do list.

New Year’s resolutions can be hard to keep because of pressure put on us by society and ourselves, but breaking them down into short term goals can make daunting tasks seem more manageable. Now that you’ve exercised your brain a little and maybe even come up with some new projects you want to work on, go treat yourself! You deserve it.

*** Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional and you should NOT create any kind of food or exercise plan based on this advice. This article is based on my own experiences, which might be different from yours. ***


Featured image c/o Stephanie Kensy >>


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