5 Questions to Ask About Your New Year’s Resolutions

5 Questions to Ask About Your New Year’s Resolutions

By UOnline News

5 Questions to Ask About Your New Year’s Resolutions

By UOnline News
New year, new beginnings.

We often embark in January with high hopes for a better version of ourselves in the new year. Better saving habits, exercise routines, mindsets at work, or maybe even committing to an actual sleep schedule. Whether we want to cut down on wasting time or increase our productivity, we need to set goals that make sense within the reality of who we are and what our life looks like to be effective.

The truth is that progress takes place day by day. At the Division of Continuing and International Education, we are committed to lifelong and lifewide learning by creating an environment that allows success for each of our students. The key to this philosophy is providing tools that encourage critical thinking towards the goals we set for ourselves. As British philosopher, Bertrand Russell famously said, “The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.” Consider one or two aspirations that you have for the new year. Ask yourself these five questions to make more meaningful resolutions and better your chances of achieving your goals.

1. Is your goal something that requires isolated motivation, or does it take sustained effort over time?

Oftentimes, we need to start feeling productive in order to fuel productivity. How do you jumpstart this cycle? Start small. Maybe your priority is to improve your well-being and mental health. This goal takes sustained effort over time but starts with mustering the initiative to take one step like researching a therapist or trying meditation or simply opening up about something important to a friend. Finding the perfect therapist who will guide you into self-discovery and self-improvement is probably not something you will accomplish on the first try. But can you reach out to one therapist’s office? You can do that. Breaking down your objective into bite-sized pieces that bring immediate gratification can build the momentum you need to tackle more complicated steps in your journey.

2. Do you have control over the outcome of the goal you are setting for yourself?

When establishing an important target, it is imperative to recognize what degree of authority you have over the outcome. If your resolution is to get a promotion in the next year, that can be highly motivating on a personal level. However, it doesn’t account for the myriad of external factors that could get in the way of making this a reality. Organizations can be subject to restructuring, budget cuts, and leadership changes without much forewarning to employees, which could affect your career trajectory. Consider if the objective you are setting is dependent on how you assess yourself, or the validation of someone else. You may find it easier to stay on track and brush off discouragement when you’re in charge of your own benchmarks.

3. Does your goal involve other people’s cooperation?

Think about who is involved in getting you to the finish line. Sometimes we make the mistake of tying our own success to the actions of other people, who ultimately, we can’t control. Perhaps you have a strained relationship with a friend or family member and your intention is to repair it. Keep in mind that you can change your own behavior, but this won’t guarantee any changes in the other person. Rather than homing in on a specific variable in the relationship, you might consider developing healthier reactions to what sets you off about the other person, which is something you can control.

4. How can you appreciate the process of achieving your goal, rather than a singular focus on the outcome?

One of the most challenging but satisfying things we can do in life is learning to “enjoy the process”. If your ambition is to read a 1,000+ page book like Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged or David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, you may be laser-focused on getting through the novel so you can say you have finished it. But what is the point of getting to the end if you don’t find fulfillment satisfaction along the way? Leaning into the time, energy, and effort it takes to complete a goal, especially one that cannot be achieved in one sitting, can be just as satisfying as the final product. When the time put into a goal becomes just as valuable as the goal itself, you’re onto something.

5. What larger purpose does your goal align with?

Perhaps most important of all is connecting our smaller targets to a larger guiding value. Associating the small steps in the journey of a long-term mission helps us prioritize and stick with changes we want to make in our life. For example, if your resolution is to cook at home more, think about why this decision is important to you. Is it because you want to save more money? Make healthier eating choices? Feel more self-sufficient? Expand your skillset? Asking ourselves a round of “why/because” questions can get to the crux of our values. For example, “I want to cook at home more because it results in healthier eating choices because I’m more thoughtful while grocery shopping because I want to lower my cholesterol for my future” can be more compelling than “I’m choosing to make stir fry at home instead of going out for pizza.” Reminding ourselves of the big-picture values we prioritize connects the dots between daily decisions and compromises.

We are wishing you the best of luck with your New Year’s Resolutions and goals for 2022! Go ‘Canes!