2022 is almost over, and it’s a fitting time to reflect upon the past year and envision the upcoming one.
The tradition of New Year’s resolutions is a chance to shake things up and potentially change life in a positive way. So, let’s talk a bit about the tradition itself and some resolutions to consider when moving into 2023.
Why most resolutions fail and how to make yours succeed
Research suggests that most New Year’s resolutions are destined to flounder rather early. Does it mean that New Year’s resolutions are just a collective gimmick? Not necessarily – you just have to realize its success depends on the same criteria involved in any other task of setting and achieving goals. New Year’s resolutions are not going to magically succeed just because they are decided upon on the last day of the previous year.
So, why do most resolutions fail?
Because it’s actually not easy to change yourself. According to the Transtheoretical Model of Change employed by some psychologists, it’s a complex process that involves multiple stages. In order to successfully change yourself, you must first thoroughly contemplate the desired action, prepare for it, and then maintain it once it’s realized. You can’t just jump to action without preparation. That’s why most New Year’s resolutions fail – they are made at the wrong time when people are not yet ready to achieve their desired goals.
So, before proclaiming your New Year’s resolution to the whole extended family at a dinner party, consider how feasible it is. Is it a sudden spur of imagination influenced by champagne? Or perhaps it’s something you have been considering for a while and now feel ready to put into action? Keep in mind that there is no need to make a New Year’s resolution at all – some decisions are better left for another time when they are more likely to succeed.
However, in the spirit of optimism, here are three New Year’s resolutions that everyone should take to heart for a better 2023.
1. Get your finances in order
There is a good chance you have been impacted by inflation. With the global economy offering uncertain prospects, the best thing you can do is take care of your own finances. If you aren’t doing it already, consider making a budget to help you keep track of your income and expenses. It will help you better understand how your money is spent. Perhaps you will identify some unnecessary expenditures, such as rarely used subscription services or impulse buys, that you could have avoided.
What to do
Creating a budget is a great start, but that won’t be enough to get your finances in order. Depending on your financial situation, you could make various financial goals in 2023. For example, if you have accrued credit card debt, it would be a laudable goal to repay it. It’s also worth considering creating a rainy-day fund if you haven’t got one already. Financial experts argue that, ideally, you should have enough money saved up to see you through one year of lost income. But you can start small – any savings are better than none. A rainy-day fund will ease your mind in case of emergency expenses.
Good management of your finances is an invaluable skill that will serve you well for the rest of your life. Your future self will thank you for kickstarting 2023 with a thrifty and rational financial attitude. Just remember, don’t be vague – make a realistic and clearly defined goal (such as saving $1000) and stick with it.
2. Limit time spent on social media
Do you feel like you don’t have enough time in a day? The odds are that social media take up a considerable portion of it. And although, in general, social media platforms have helped us to connect with each other in new ways, perhaps they have a tendency to claim too much of our time.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation of endlessly browsing social media content without a real purpose? That is not a coincidence – most social media sites are designed to promote this kind of behavior. The user is like a mouse in the famous Skinner’s box experiment – conditioned to endlessly browse the content for something interesting. As a result, you might feel drained by the whole experience – and with very little time for other activities.
What to do
There is no need to get off the grid, but limiting your time spent on social media platforms is not a bad idea. Prolonged use of social media is associated with increased stress, anxiety, and depression. You should ask yourself: how much of the time spent on social media platforms is actually purposeful? What portion of it is used for interacting with people you care about, and how much – just passively browsing?
The idea is to have a meaningful online presence that doesn’t take up too much time. You could consider limiting your online time, for example, allocating an hour for social media in the morning and logging off for the rest of the day. Limiting your social media use will free up some of that time for other activities – and that’s a great way to start a new year and potentially make space for other exciting ideas.
3. Beat procrastination
There is a good chance that you have engaged in or at least considered procrastination at some point. And that’s not surprising – procrastination is a short-term coping mechanism that allows us to avoid the negative emotions associated with tasks at hand. Perhaps some degree of procrastination is only natural. However, in the long run, regular procrastination can seriously hinder your productivity and negatively affect your mental health.
We procrastinate for different reasons. Some people are perfectionists and set very high standards for themselves, which are sometimes hard to uphold. For perfectionists, procrastination provides a respite from their own demands.
For someone else, it might be an act of self-sabotage. Sometimes we are faced with uncomfortable or demanding tasks that are more difficult than what we are accustomed to – but also provide a potential to learn and develop. Some people don’t like the uncertainty of this situation and might procrastinate to stay in their comfort zone.
For others, it just might be a case of chasing the adrenaline – leaving everything to the last minute and succeeding can feel great if you manage to pull it off. The work you have done in this manner can feel more substantial and rewarding. However, this kind of procrastination is likely to be stressful and will not do you any favors in the long term.
What to do
As a first step, trying some anti-procrastination hacks is not a bad idea – for example, the Lone Chair hack, which first surfaced on TikTok a few years ago. The idea is simple: when you start procrastinating, you have to sit on a special designated chair. You are not allowed to do anything else while on the chair, so you are effectively alone with your thoughts during that time. Apparently, this simple trick can do wonders – it gives your mind a proper chance to re-focus and works almost like a meditation session.
It’s important to understand why we procrastinate, and identifying the underlying reasons is probably the ultimate solution. If you procrastinate on a regular basis, there is a good chance that there are some personal issues or behavior patterns behind it – and challenging them might be a formidable task. Research suggests that Cognitive Behavior Therapy is an effective treatment in case of severe procrastination.
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As is the tradition, we are likely to see plenty of New Year’s resolutions proclaimed as we approach the tail end of the year. Although the associated optimism and spirit of self-improvement are laudable, it’s not a bad idea to treat the tradition with a grain of salt.
Be realistic about your prospects and avoid wishful thinking. Perhaps some ambitious resolutions have not yet matured – and there is no reason to force them early. However, managing your finances more effectively and trying some anti-procrastination hacks are relatively safe bets to try out in the upcoming year.
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