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The value of New Year’s resolutions
  1. Jen Gale

Abstract

Want to set a resolution for 2020 that you can actually keep? Then think less about goals and more about values, advises Jen Gale.

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Jen Gale is a small animal vet, a VDS Training coach, a speaker and a mentor

New year, new you! Isn’t that what we’re all supposed to be thinking?

And 2020 isn’t just a new year – it marks the start of a whole new decade, just in case we needed any more pressure to recreate ourselves over the coming weeks and become someone fitter, healthier, slimmer, happier, calmer, more productive…

It’s been reported that 80 per cent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. To avoid falling into this trap, we are often advised to set ‘SMART goals’ – ones that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Recorded and Time-bound.

SMART goals can come in for a bit of a hard time, and mention of them often generates – at best – some eye rolling. I’m actually a big fan of them, but I do think we also need to dig a little deeper when we’re looking to create change.

We need to look not just at what we want to do or to change, but why we want to

I think we need to look not just at what we want to do or to change, but why we want to. Because when we take a moment to think about our why, it prompts us to start thinking about our values – the things that are important to us.

The reality is that your goal, your aim, your resolution can be as ‘smart’ as they come, but if it isn’t in line with your values, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Say you want to earn x thousand pounds more this coming year. You decide the best way to do that is look for a new job, or start a side hustle, or take on some extra out-of-hours shifts. One of the things that you really value, though, is family time. So while you may well end up financially richer by the end of the year, you’ll probably also be pretty miserable because your hunt for extra money has taken you away from something you really value.

All too often we find ourselves chasing other people’s goals, the expectations we think society has of us – that new job, or shiny car, or those foreign holidays – without ever stopping to think about the life that we really want and the things we value. That means we run the risk of setting ourselves goals that on the surface feel do-able and good for us, but end up subconsciously sabotaging our pursuit of them because they’re actually really at odds with our core values.

So before you decide on the things you want to achieve during this shiny new year and decade – the change you want to create, the action you want to take – spend a few minutes thinking about what’s really important to you (and to those around you). It could be family time, it could be time outside, it could be fairness and equality, the state of the planet, your physical and/or mental health, your relationships, your faith, or something else entirely.

And then instead of thinking about ‘weight loss’ or ‘more money’ as your goals, think about the small steps and changes you can make so that by the end of the year, you’re finding it easier to live your values. In that way, you’re much more likely to stick to your resolutions and be ensuring the things you’re aiming towards truly fit with who you are and what is important to you.

Think about your values – what’s really important to you?
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