I have mixed feelings about New Year Resolutions. I do, not surprisingly, endorse the idea of setting and working towards goals and focusing on self-improvement. Based on the research, and several decades of experience as a psychologist and coach, there’s absolutely no doubt these activities are associated with greater wellbeing and success in life.
But I don’t necessarily like the idea of only doing this once each year! Too many people, I’ve observed, set some goals in late December or early January, make an effort to achieve them for a few days, weeks or maybe even a few months, and then slip back into their old ways of doing things, bad habits or just lazy options, only to repeat the same process when the next calendar end comes around.
Resolutions, or goals, should be set on a regular basis; self-improvement should be a daily striving.
I’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to work with and to observe some of the most successful people in many areas of life. I’ve worked with CEO’s and senior executives; entrepreneurs and thought leaders; elite athletes and professional sportspeople. And if there was one thing they all had in common it was the daily practices of living and learning, striving and improving, celebrating every step along the way and starting again as often as needs be.
Think about just one of the examples to which I just referred, athletes or sportspeople. As the saying goes, “you’re only as good as your last race or game”. A win or a good result is great; but that’s it. It all starts again tomorrow or next game day. And the best know they need to keep getting better in order to stay on top. Each and every day, each and every race or match or competition is an opportunity to be better and to perform better.
Now I’m well aware that most of us don’t “compete” on a daily basis the way these athletes do; and I definitely don’t think life should be looked at as a competition that we should try to “win”. We don’t and it’s not.
This also doesn’t mean you can’t rest; or take your time. I’m definitely not advocating a life of constant working or pressure. In fact, if we continue the comparison with athletes then we can easily see that they place great emphasis on rest and recovery. Any decent training program, especially in recent times, will focus just as much on recuperation as it does on effort and training.
But what we can learn, is that within the caveats just outlined, many of us could live better lives, more often, if we saw resolutions as things to be set each and every day (or at least, each and every week). This allows us to focus on smaller, more achievable changes which then increases our chances of success. It also means we can catch ourselves earlier if or when we stray off track, and make any necessary corrections or adjustments sooner rather than later.