GOAL 101 – Intro to Setting Goals: New Year’s Resolution

This is the end of yet another semester, 4 months away when “New Year’s resolution” made their grand appearance. Being buried under the hectic academic schedule, our resolution, which recorded how hopeful and excited we once were for a new year, a lot of times have already sunk into our repressed consciousness. A new year always seems so promising, we easily interpret it as a free restart button – a new beginning. Although I understood this, I was never able to share that mindset.

I saw the New Year as a continuation of last year or, even worse, a repetition of it. As a college student, I found a new school year quite predictable, it consisted of 3 semesters, around 4 months each, made up of 13 weeks of lecture, an exam period, and a short break; all it took was one sentence to make a fairly good preview of 2019.

Of course, everyone’s experience of this year would be different, but the main structure was long formed. As I bought into this systematic view of a new year, I also became unmotivated to make a change – and my fear of failing only made it worse. I refused to write New Year’s resolutions since they appeared to me more like a giant setup destined for failure; promises would decay into burdens and expectations would degrade into debts. It was not easy sticking to a plan, especially one that was not carefully plotted out, for a year. Therefore, the novelty of the first month – January – easily wore off and I was, once again, back at school receiving course outlines and jotting down upcoming assignments that quickly filled up my agenda. The choice not to write a resolution just seemed even wiser after that.

However, I could not have been more wrong.

Taking the time to review your past, make a list of things you’d like to change or improve, and plan your goals for your future mean you have already taken the crucial and meaningful steps towards self-improvement. The skeptic in me used to focus only on the small chances that one actually followed through and was committed to their resolutions/ goals; however, when you think about it, even though a person might just have put in a day’s effort trying to make a change, that is already better than giving up a shot for improvement from the get-go. It’s important to acknowledge that although the process of changing can be tough and lengthy, which setback will be a frequent guest, this time’s “failure” may actually be equipping us for next time’s success.

It took me long enough to realize that goals were not defined by the seeming result of whether we broke or kept them. Instead, I see them now as an opportunity to reflect on the past (self-reflection), gain a better understanding of yourself and your shortcomings (self-acknowledgement) and take initiative in making changes that better impact your life (self-improvement). Though a new beginning, which is often tied to and signified by the invention of time, can be a great prompt to think about our goals, the actions of setting goals, paradoxically, can also be an excellent way to start a new chapter. For me, 20 years flew by before I successfully persuaded myself to write my first list of goals, hopefully these reasons above will persuade you to do the same!