Written by Cait Flanders
Friday, November 30th, 2018
I'm not a fan of resolutions. While they're set with good intentions, we almost never keep them, and I have a theory as to why.
Why It's Hard to Keep Resolutions
Instead of making one resolution that aligns with who you are today, resolutions are often huge aspirations: arbitrary goals we think will make us better versions of ourselves in the future.
That might not sound like a bad thing, but if it's a huge stretch and doesn't feel like something the real you would actually do, it's likely that you won't bother. And if you give up, you could end the year feeling badly about yourself, which is definitely not the point of the exercise.
Make Your Goals Count
What if there was another way to enter a new year, and get to the end feeling like you made it count? I think it's possible, if you're able to set goals that align with your values—not your aspirations. Let me break this idea down. It's my favourite way to set goals for the year!
1. The first thing to keep in mind is a simple statement: your values are not your aspirations. Your values aren't the things you aspire to care about or make more time for. Your values are the things that truly matter to you right now at this moment in time.
2. With that in mind, search for "personal values" or "core values" online and you'll find lists upon lists of them. This is one of my favourites, and I find myself scrolling through it every few months to see if any of my values have changed (they do—and should).
3. Write down 4-6 words that pop out for you. The last time I did this, mine were: adventure, explore, connection, presence, calm and slow. You might notice there's a recurring theme in yours, or maybe each word will be very different. It doesn't matter, as long as they feel good to you. These are your current values.
4. Finally, spend some time thinking about what goals you could set so you can finish the year feeling like you're living according to your values. For example: If your values include family, friends and spontaneity, a big goal could be to save up for a family vacation. A smaller goal could be to simply budget for more coffee/dinner dates with loved ones.
It's OK to Dream Big
I want to be clear and say that it's still fine if your goals feel a little aspirational. In fact, "growth" or "learning" could be on your list of values. Maybe this year will be a big year for you, but it's also fine if your goals feel more grounded.
After determining your values, your goals can be more specific than generic resolutions. They'll be personalized to you, by you. How fulfilling would it be to get to the end of the year and feel like you lived (and budgeted) according to your values? It's doable. I'll say cheers to that.