With the New Year comes New Year’s resolutions. But what are resolutions? Are they different from goals?
Resolutions seem to be more grandiose than mundane goals — however, according to psychologists, achieving either one requires the same process. Learning Skills Services at York stresses the importance of making goals and resolutions SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.
You want to divide a larger goal into smaller, more achievable, goals. For example, if you want to complete a piano exam in six months, then break this big goal into smaller ones: learn one piece, then get even more specific by practising one section of the piece every day for a half hour, until you can play it at the required speed. Give yourself enough time to practise, while also being mindful of the larger piece, other repertoire, and the other components of the exam. With these practices, a daunting goal is now easily attainable.
Olivia De Sanctis, an English graduate student, says, “Transitioning into 2022, my main resolution is to work on developing my sense of confidence. I’ve tried to avoid setting any tedious goals that will be difficult to follow through for the whole year. Instead I’m prioritizing setting schedules for myself, so that I can be productive in ways that help me achieve my goals, which naturally helps me to feel good about myself. I have also created a vision board for the year and keep lists of weekly tasks.”
Samantha Stellato, another student in the English graduate program, wants to do less: “I’ve found it too easy to overload my schedule with things I think I ‘should’ be doing in order to become a more marketable hiring candidate. I resolve to do less; to prioritize only my studies and the very important work of doing the things that make me happy and keep me sane.”
Self-concordance is an aspect to successfully making and accomplishing goals. This is when your inner values align with your external circumstances. If you value physical activity, then taking a walk in your neighbourhood is self-concordant. Your external circumstance, walking, matches your values.
Along with self-concordance, you are more likely to attain your goals and resolutions if they are approach oriented rather than avoidance based. For example, if you want to lose five pounds per month, switch your focus from what you shouldn’t eat to all the new things you could try out.
Finally, stretch goals have the most lasting impact. These are within your grasp, but only if you stretch a little. They won’t bore or discourage you, especially if you have a SMART plan. Preparing for a five-kilometre race in three months could be considered a stretch goal, especially if you can only run one kilometre right now.
But not all goals have to be health related. Monica Sousa, fourth-year English PhD student, wants to “read 65 novels and open an online shop to sell handmade resin earrings.”