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Four Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a New Year’s Resolution

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It’s that time of year again when TV ads have shifted away from buying holiday presents to signing up for gym memberships. Even if you have no fitness goals in mind, if you’re like most Americans, you’ll make a New Year’s resolution…and give up on it by February. If you want to avoid this, there are a few things you need to acknowledge.

First, take notice of how our society tends to get a little carried away with pressures to improve everything around this time of year. Sometimes these pressures might make you become so fixated on the outcome of the resolution that you completely lose sight of the reason why you made it in the first place. New Year’s resolutions shouldn’t be about overhauling your life to the point of perfection. They should be about achieving goals in your life that will make your happier and healthier. Be sure to ask yourself the following four questions before the clock strikes Midnight on December 31st.

1. Who is this for?

Don’t make the New Year’s resolution that you feel you should make. In order for you to meet your goals, you must have internal motivation to get there. If you commit to a New Year’s resolution because of outside pressure, chances are you’re not going to stick to it. You might feel pressure from the media to get down to a certain weight or you might decide to quit smoking to get your spouse to stop nagging you about it. You should want to lose weight or quit smoking because it’s better for your health, not because the media or your family members pressure you to do it. Only set a New Year’s resolution if you feel that internal desire to commit to it.

2. What are my priorities?

You may want to have a stellar career, an impressive physique, and enough time to go to every one of your kids’ soccer games and school plays. While that life might seem amazing, it would be nearly impossible to live up to it. Holding yourself to an unrealistic standard will only burn you out before the year is even close to being over.

Think about the area of your life that needs the most attention. Maybe, last year you had a hard time being there for your kids so you decide your family life is going to take center stage this year. Now, I’m not saying you should ignore the other parts of your life just to stick to your resolution. Of course you should try to find balance. But you should be honest with yourself about what you want to focus on this year without feeling like you have to achieve perfection in all areas of your life.

3. Do I have the right resources for this?

When I say resources I mean time, health, and money. If you’re missing one of those three vital things, you may not be able to stick to your New Year’s resolution. Let’s say you want to do a triathlon this year. You may have enough time to train and you’re in great shape, but you don’t have the funds for all that is needed to compete. You may be partway through the year before you realize the cost that comes with all the gear, personal training, physical therapy, entrance fees, and travel expenses needed to keep your New Year’s resolution. You don’t want your goal to be subverted by lack of resources. Be sure your health, finances, and schedule allow for your New Year’s resolution to be a feasible goal for you.

4. Does this serve my natural strengths?

Some New Year’s resolutions might seem like great ideas but aren’t going to benefit you the way you thought. The reason this resolution might fail is because you will try to change yourself to fit the goal instead of using the goal to fit you. For example, at the start of 2016, I made a professional and personal resolution. My personal resolution was to cut back on TV time to the point that I would go a whole month without it. My professional goal was to learn how to code in HMTL, CSS, and JavaScript. My personal resolution was a success and my professional resolution…not so much.

On paper, coding seemed like something I would love to do. I like computers and technology and I like creating things out of nothing. Plus, it is a valuable skill in this increasingly digital world. But the issue was I didn’t consider my natural strengths and what strengths are required to achieve my goal of learning to code. I’m an intuitive thinker who has strong language and verbal skills. Unfortunately for coding, it takes more of a detailed tactical mindset that I simply don’t have. I didn’t achieve my professional resolution because I didn’t take who am I as a person and my natural abilities into consideration. When choosing your new year’s resolution, don’t leave yourself out of the equation.

Golden takeaway: Making a New Year’s resolution can be a great way to achieve your goals and improve your life. Be sure you pick the right resolution so you don’t give up on your goal or become burned out.

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