Every year around this time, everyone talks about one thing: new goals for the new year. And without a doubt, every time, we share big plans with others, spending an entire evening rambling and trying to prove to ourselves that we can achieve whatever we set our minds to.
Why do we do that, though?
Why do we have the urge to tell others, to share our life plans with external stakeholders, to allow them the power to hold or words against us when we fail?
It’s because we all feel the need to be accountable. Deep within us, we know that letting someone in on a secret or running an idea by them helps solidify it. The more the number of people know about our plan and agree with it, the stronger is the possibility of its success.
That’s why most of us inflict our most profound plans and ideas in the world, in the last few days of the year because new years are new beginnings.
I’ve never made a special New Year’s Resolution (or NYR as the text-speakers call it) because I don’t need the first of January to start working on something I care about. Any day is the beginning of a new year for me. I know what I want to do next week or next month, and what I want to achieve by the end of the year.
That said, sometimes I don’t know what I want to do this week. And that’s fine too. Perhaps I’ll go to work and see what challenges come at me.
It’s nice to have someone enquire how things are going and offer to help, but we needn’t force ourselves to figure out a goal so that we have something to say when it’s our turn.
“What’s your resolution for this year?” — That question is a mere conversation starter. Perhaps a good way to diffuse the tension around a family dinner table or at a boring work party.
Family and friends might wish us well when we tell them we want to lose 15 pounds. Or make a ton of money, or end debt, or work harder, or spend more time for personal wellness.
Beyond that, however, it doesn’t matter to other people what our resolution is or why we chose that one in particular.
But the idea of forming a plan, a proper outline for how I want the rest of my days to turn out is a lot of pressure. After all, no matter how much we plan and plan, life will throw surprises and disasters our way.
New Year’s resolutions are overrated. People make something up every year and promise to uphold it even if they know they won’t. New Year’s Eve isn’t about trying to think of something almost achievable that we don’t feel inadequate at the party later, but it’s more about reflecting on our mistakes from the previous year and learn never to make those mistakes again.
Real goals don’t sound like weak NYRs. Real goals are inclusive of the unfamiliar, respective of the uncontrollable, and realistic to the core.
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