A few years ago now, I was studying New Year’s Resolutions. I was in Canada for a semester at the University of Victoria and I had a class called Motivation, Emotion and Wellbeing. In this class, we spent a portion of time examining historic and current research into why people do what they do – and why they don’t do what they really should do.
- Why does a student only begin an essay the night before it’s due instead of writing it during the week?
- Why does a person recently discharged from hospital not do their physiotherapy, despite knowing its importance?
- Why do people give up their New Year’s Resolutions after a couple of weeks?
I think understanding the process of decision making has been a huge help in actually achieving goals. Now, a disclaimer. Just because I was a student in that class doesn’t mean I’m now cured and have perfect motivation for everything – far from it. But people don’t just do things. There are a number of factors at play before a person decides to get up off the sofa to go for a run – too many to go into now – but my take away from that portion of the class was that New Year’s Resolutions are way too specific.
Uh, yeah, of course you’re going to give up on your goal when what you told yourself on the 1st January was “I’m not going to eat any processed sugar at all and I’m going to go to the gym three times a week – no matter what!” No matter what? So nothing can get in the way? What happens when you get that cold that’s been going around and you miss an entire week and a friend makes you a carb heavy meal to get your strength back up. Ooops, guess I broke my resolution. Time to give up.
That kind of statement is extremely harsh and inevitably brings up a load of guilt when you can’t fulfil it. So in my research for this class, I came across the idea of assigning a word to the year. Just one word but it needs to encompass what you would like to achieve. For example, when I first read this in 2014, I knew my word for the year was ‘travel’ as I had visited three continents that year and grown a lot as a person because of it. 2016 was ‘career’. My focus was getting my first graduate job but had I not achieved this, my resolution word would have still been kind on myself. If I had got to the end of 2016 and not got that job, I had still progressed my career by graduating from university.
By staying broad, you make things achievable and there’s room to breathe when you need a break. I love this as a concept because it ties so nicely in with No More Zero Days – the idea that even a little progress is better than no progress at all, no matter how seemingly insignificant it may be.
So all that was a very roundabout way to announce that my resolution word for 2019 is ‘creativity’! I want this year to be the most creative one yet, whatever that may look like. I have a lot of different projects bubbling away and I know that there will be others that will be very spur of the moment too, like this flower pressing frame below (only 85p, thanks IKEA!). I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings!