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Byron Shire
January 29, 2023

New Year, new you?

Latest News

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We all want to move on and leave 2022 behind. Maybe 2023 will finally be a good year, without a disaster like a bushfire, pandemic, or flood.

Now is the time that so many of us will set our New Year’s resolutions, the dreams that we have had our hearts set on for a while, but have believed that we need the motivation of a new year to be able to achieve. 

Research from Finder.com.au states that 72 per cent of Australians made a New Year’s resolution for 2022; that tells us about the popularity of setting big goals at the start of a new year. However, multiple studies cite that only between eight and 20 per cent of people actually achieve their resolutions.

Speaking with Vicki Henricks, the director of Byron International Coaching Centre, I got some advice for setting and achieving realistic New Year’s resolutions.

Part of a bigger picture

When goal setting, Vicki believes that ‘people are more likely to achieve a goal when it is part of a bigger picture or vision for their life’. However, New Year’s resolutions are often set so that people can immediately see change in only certain areas of their lives.

This desire for change may be framed as ‘my New Year’s resolution is to quit smoking’. By having ‘quit smoking’ as a resolution, the reason for wanting this change is not addressed.

Therefore the stereotypical resolutions that people set for the new year tend to be a means to an end. For any change to be long-lasting and successful, the reason behind wanting to do so must be known and addressed.

Our goals need to align with our vision for what our ideal life would look like, so that this goal becomes one of the steps to get there. If you want to ‘quit smoking’ for example, people need to understand why.

Is it so that they can lead a healthier, more relaxed lifestyle? Or is it to appease a partner? If they wanted to lead a healthier lifestyle, then just quitting smoking may not necessarily be the only step required to reach their goal.

New Year’s resolutions are rarely achieved

People often have good intentions when they set their New Year’s resolutions – after all, these are lifestyle changes that they have chosen. However, New Year’s resolutions are rarely achieved because, according to Vicki, people ‘underestimate the psychological tension involved in achieving their outcome, especially if they want to give up something’.

We may want to change, but a part of us has indulged in this ‘bad habit’ for a reason; maybe it relieves stress, is the easier option, etc. If someone’s resolution is driven by fear, it tends to be more difficult to achieve.

This is because once a satisfactory result is attained, people fall back to their old patterns, as they no longer have a fear-driven motivation.

To make lasting changes to our lives, we need to first reflect on what we gain from our ‘bad habits’. If we can understand why we partake in these behaviours, we can find alternative ways to fulfil our needs.

A smoker may reach for a cigarette to calm down, and so their ultimate goal may be to increase relaxation in their lives. We can then replace our ‘bad habits’, increasing our chances of keeping our resolution.

Make it achievable

There are ways that people can realistically set, maintain and achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Before making the resolution, Vicki recommends that we ask ourselves, ‘What are you ultimately hoping to achieve? What difference will it make to your life? What will happen if you don’t do it?’.

It is important to thoroughly understand what we want, so that we can work out why it is important that we stick to our goals that will get us there.

Resolutions should then be broken down into multiple small steps that are achievable. Having smaller steps to reach our goals is a great way to measure progress, so we can continue to move towards success, and celebrate all of our achievements.

By recognising any steps that bring us closer to our goal, we are associating progress with positives, which makes us more likely to want to continue working towards our resolution. Enrolling family, friends or a partner who might have similar goals means that we can hold one another accountable, and have an even stronger motivation to succeed together. 

By reframing our New Year’s resolution as a ‘SMART goal – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant with a Time frame’ – we can realistically and meaningfully move towards a happier, more satisfying life.

I certainly know what my New Year’s resolution is for 2023 – I want to actually achieve a goal I set, rather than giving up on it by the end of January!


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3 COMMENTS

  1. You can’t ‘self improve’ on a scheduled. Most people don’t even know what they need to aim for anyway. Youtube Tom MacDonald ‘I wish’ and ‘Fighter’. Which of those songs resonates with you will tell you who you are. That’s step one.
    And welcome to 2023. Lock and Load.

  2. I always failed at new year’s resolutions – until, at age 35-ish, I made one that I’ve kept faithfully ever since.

    That NY resolution?

    “I resolve to never again make a New Year’s resolution.”

    It’s been surprisingly easy to keep for 40+ years.

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