It’s the month when everyone takes down their Christmas lights (as Taylor Swift points out in her opening line of “Lover”). People start going back to work and everyone’s short on money after overspending during the holidays.
But, I think that it is the tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions that truly incites this widespread phenomenon of January hatred. I just can’t get behind it!
The thought of having to make, and inevitably break, our visionary aims for self-improvement urges us to approach January with a sense of pre-emptive disappointment.
The start of the year carries pressure to make serious changes to how we live our lives. This can make you feel like a failure before the month even starts.
The likelihood of you dropping your resolutions increases with age. Youthful dreams of personal development and individual growth are replaced with a staunch pessimism towards any talk of “new year, new me”.
Many individuals undergo a post-adolescent disenchantment with the idea of making New Year resolutions. It is almost as if, by making a goal, you are jinxing yourself and reducing its chance of coming true.
To go against eveything I’ve just said for a second, I think this may be the wrong attitude to have. Establishing clear goals to pursue over the next twelve months isn’t necessarily harmful.
Of course, some New Year resolutions can be very unrealistic or even dangerous to a person’s health, like fad diets. Rather, January should be a time to refocus your priorities in a meaningful and safe way.
We’re only a few days into 2024 but, if you’ve already dropped your New Year Resolutions, you’re not alone. Research shows that typically only one-third of people are still following their resolutions by the end of January.
Given that many of us have had years of practice making these resolutions, this low success rate is quite surprising.
So, for anyone who’s committed to achieving their 2024 goals, I’ll give my best bit of advice.
I recommend having one big annual goal, and then several smaller monthly goals. The big goal could be something like ‘save more money’ or ‘decrease my screen time’. As this goal will normally be quite abstract and difficult to measure, the monthly goals help break this up into more achievable tasks.
For instance, suppose that your big goal is to learn how to cook healthy meals. Your monthly goals for January could include tasks like: following five food bloggers on Instagram; buying two cooking books; making a Pinterest food inspiration board or trying food at a new cafe.
It’s recommended to keep the aims as specific as possible so that you can tick them off when they’re done and track your progress.
One study shows that writing down these goals can increase the likelihood of you achieving them by up to 40%!
One thing I like about this method is that it doesn’t encourage you to strive towards perfection. This method promotes steady, long-term success and prevents you from obsessing over your goal for the first week of January before abandoning the whole thing.
Instead of having just one fresh start each year, you get 12. It’s a win, win!
Biologists have found that your skin cells shed every day so that you have a completely new layer of skin every 27 days. I will be honest this sort of sounds creepy but it’s a cool fact and you never know it could be the thing you need to stay on track!
Even if the first few days of 2024 haven’t gone as planned, there is still hope.
By establishing monthly goals, you may become one of the lucky ones who will be able to honestly say ‘I achieved my 2024 New Year’s Resolution’.