This Year, Why Not Make a New Year's Resolution You're Actually Going to Keep!

It’s that time of year again when many of us start thinking about a resolution or two; somehow, it’s just easier to raid the Christmas tin every couple of minutes when we are totally confident that, come the first day of January, we’ll never let anything other than organic lettuce pass our lips. Let’s have a look at how, this year, we can make a resolution that has actually got a chance of lasting until at least January 2nd, whether that’s to stop counting cheese and onion crisps as one of our five or day, or to set ourselves some brand new language learning goals for 2022.

What is a New Year’s Resolution?

In general, a New Year’s resolution is a commitment to change something in your life for the better, perhaps by incorporating a new habit into your life or by ditching an old one. It’s a tradition that’s older than you might think: January is named after the ancient Roman God Janus, and Romans made promises to this God at the start of the New Year. Later, medieval knights took an oath called the ‘peacock vow’ over the Christmas period to reaffirm their commitment to the chivalric code.

Nowadays? About 60% of the population of the Western world make an annual resolution, although the custom is starting to become popular in other parts of the world, too. And of those who make a resolution, how many, on average, keep them. About 25%. But don’t worry, there is hope. Let’s find out what exactly is going wrong with our New Year’s promises and think about how to give ourselves a much better chance of success.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Resolutions That Aren’t Going To Work

Why don’t we kick off with some New Year’s resolutions that are not likely to end well - see if you can spot what they all have in common.

To Get Fit - one of the most popular in the ‘New Year’s Resolution 2022 Playbook’ is a plan to lose weight, shape up, tone up and be a generally healthier human being.

Quit the Cigarettes - another perennial New Year favorite is the resolution to give up the cigarettes once and for all, going cold turkey from the 1st. Yep, it sounds totally realistic.

Drink Less Booze - it feels fine to knock back a few extra eggnogs and a sneaky glass of sherry on Christmas Day when you have 100% confidence that you’ll be barely drinking a drop of alcohol over the coming twelve months.

Sort out Debt - You know you’ve got debt, and you know it needs sorting. January 2022 seems like the perfect time to do it. Somehow.

Improve the Home/Worklife Balance - New Year 2022 is, you are adamant, when you’re finally going to address your work/life balance (or, rather, imbalance) and be a generally more productive human.

Did you spot what all these commonly broken resolutions have in common?

All of them are vague, with no clear goals, which makes them seem less obtainable, and harder to stick to. For example, rather than just having one of your New Year’s resolutions as cutting back on the booze, you’ll have a much greater chance of success by getting specific: how about, instead, aiming to reduce your intake by five units a week? As well as being a manageable way of tackling the challenge, it’s measurable, too, which means that every week you can celebrate your success. Just not with a drink. The danger of an ‘all or nothing’ or vague resolution is that, if you slip, it’s easy to jettison the whole thing.

Photo by Storiès on Unsplash

Similarly, if you want to sort out debt, set a clear intention: ‘I want to have cleared £2000 off of my credit card debt by December 2022’ for example. And then break this into mini-goals. You’ll need to pay off £167 a month to achieve your target. Think about how this could be made possible. Perhaps you could switch energy suppliers to save £50 a month and use the car less to save on fuel costs. Maybe you could work one weekend a month to raise the money needed. Once you’ve figured this part out, set up a direct debit so that the £167 a month gets paid automatically.

Let’s explore how to keep your resolutions a bit more below.

How to Make a Resolution That’ll Be Successful

Now we know what not to do, how should we go about setting our goals for 2022?

As mentioned above, make them specific and targeted. It’s also important to remind yourself often - or keep things around you that remind you -  why you are so keen to make this change.

If you’re determined to lose weight and get in shape so that you can join in more activities with your kids, then create a weight loss plan with weekly targets as well as this, make an intention board that features photos of your kids having fun, perhaps a shot or two of you when you were your target weight, and some cuttings of pictures from magazines showing families participating in the sort of activities that you would like to enjoy with your children.

This is a powerful way of maintaining motivation when you’re feeling like things could slide.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Another key way of helping to ensure that your New Year’s resolution 2022 is successful is to enlist support to help keep you going. Perhaps there are a few of you among your friendship group that would like to make the same resolution; this is great for motivation and lets you cheerlead each other and celebrate your group and individual wins. Having a support network means that if you feel your resolve weakening, you can phone one of the other members of your group, who will hopefully be able to get you back on track.

Having a place on the calendar to mark your weekly achievements is a really effective method to sustain the willpower you’ll need. If your resolution is to read more, write your weekly page (or book!) total up so that you have a visual record of how well you’ve done.

New Year’s Resolution 2022 Ideas

If you’re looking for some options for New Year’s resolutions that aren’t of the usual ‘eat less chocolate’ or ‘stop shouting at the kids’ ilk, then here are some ideas of resolutions that’ll help you make positive and lasting change in 2022.

Incorporate a Practice of Mindfulness Into Your Daily Life

Mindfulness has caught the popular imagination this year, and it’s no surprise why: the practice of being in the present moment, and of expressing gratitude, and developing a deep inner awareness has helped many people to cope with the emotional and mental toll of the pandemic and lockdowns.

Make incorporating mindfulness an achievable resolution by setting yourself some actionable goals for each month from January. For example, start January by committing to spend five minutes meditating each morning before starting your day. From the beginning of February, continue this routine, but also aim to eat at least one meal a day without the distraction of a screen or a magazine, and build up your mindful practices through the year in this way.

Making mindfulness part of your daily life has been linked to better mental health, and has a myriad of benefits for your physical health, too, such as the potential to regulate blood pressure and hormone production in the body.

Language Learning Goals

The New Year is a fantastic time to finally get around to learning a language you’ve always wanted to. So why not make a commitment to yourself to make this happen in 2022? Learning a new language is easier than ever before, with the rise of platforms that allow viewers to learn while watching subtitled tv programs and movies. This completely sorts out the issue of motivation: this resolution will be super easy to keep thanks to binge-worthy box sets in the target language that’ll keep you hooked!

You could learn Spanish with ‘Kitty is Not a Cat’ - in this series, a young girl enters the lives of a bunch of cats living in a derelict mansion; she teaches them how to care for somebody, and they teach her what it is to be human.

Or how about you learn French with ‘Bertrand’?

This comedy series held the title of Lingopie’s ‘French Show of the Week’ earlier this year.

If you decide that your New Year’s Resolution is to learn Italian, then the show Sotto Copertura (The Boss Hunt) is a binge-worthy box set that makes for a fun way to get to grips with the language.

Or if you’ve been planning for years to learn German but have never quite gotten around to it, then shows like ‘Wolf’ or ‘Zwischen uns die Mauer’ are great places to start. Or would you prefer to learn Portuguese? Then do so with the subtitled Tv series ‘Maya’ and ‘Leme in Love.’

And for those whose New Year’s resolutions include a commitment to learn Russian, then this will be a thoroughly entertaining endeavor with shows like ‘The Househusband’ on hand to help! Language learning is a great New Year’s resolution for kids, too, so let them join in the fun with shows like ‘Flying Animals,’ and learn Russian as a family!

Setting a language learning goal is one of the best ways to ensure that your resolution is successful. First of all, establish a clear end target. Perhaps it’s to be fluent in Spanish within a year or to have a competent grasp of conversational Portuguese within three months. Write this goal down.

Next, break up this overall aim into smaller chunks to make it more manageable. Having a target of, for example, watching two subtitled tv shows a day will not only help you work towards your goal but is also a way to learn languages in a fun way - which will keep you motivated as the weeks go on, plus will make your learning more effective; in other words, you’re going to enjoy learning and be much more likely to retain the new information.

You could set yourself a target in terms of the amount of new vocab you’d like to learn in a month or the range of phrases you can say and understand. Perhaps a mid-point goal could be the ability to hold a simple five-minute conversation with someone in the new language.

Reach these goals by immersing yourself in the target language as much as possible; incorporate it into your daily life in a multitude of different ways. This could include watching specially subtitled tv programs, reading newspapers and magazines in the target language, or listening to music. Simply spend as much time as you can listening to, hearing, and speaking the language to gain fluency rapidly. You could also join an online language learning group to support your learning and have the opportunity to converse regularly. Many people find such a mixed approach an engaging and effective way to learn languages.

Live More Sustainably

Sustainability has been big on 2022’s radar. But just making a vague promise to live more sustainably is unlikely to lead anywhere, whereas making a tangible change can have many more benefits than you think, and not just because you’ll have every right to feel righteous and super smug.

We all know we should be living greener, cleaner lives, and we also all know that, in our hearts, we could be doing more towards this aim than throwing our empty wine bottles into the recycling bin. Not that there’ll be any more of those come January, of course…

Photo by 愚木混株 cdd20 on Unsplash

So, instead, consider making a real commitment to the environment by making three pledges that you and your family will strive to live by in the new year. For example, as a family, you could all commit to always walking the ten minutes to the local shop, even if it’s raining, rather than jumping in the car. You could also decide to only purchase environmentally-friendly household cleaning products and to put the tumble drier on a maximum of once a week in the winter for one big load, rather than a few times a week for a handful of items.

Committing to actionable changes like this can have a happy impact on the planet and on your monthly expenses.

Nurture Yourself

Rather than making a resolution that’s all about denying yourself nice things (which gets old very quickly), why not flip the concept on its head and decide to nurture your body and treat it with the love and respect that it deserves. This is a powerful way to boost your physical health at the same time as fostering healthy self-esteem and a positive body image.

To keep this resolution, commit to eating foods that will promote your overall wellness. This doesn’t mean you have to cut out swathes of lovely foods: simply swap, for example, milk chocolate for dark chocolate, which is not only better for you (it’s a rich source of antioxidants) but also affects appetite, meaning that you’re likely to feel satiated after a relatively small amount. Similarly, ditch the sugary cereal for breakfast, but have boiled eggs or avocado on toast in the week, and indulge in smoked salmon on the weekend. The focal point with this resolution is on foods that will make you smile inside and out.

Photo by Mariana Medvedeva on Unsplash

Nurture your mind by getting out in the fresh air regularly; go for a walk with friends in the nearby countryside, or enjoy a winter’s stroll around the city to take in the sights. Stay hydrated, and make time to rest and replenish every day. Enjoy regular deep bubble baths, at-home facials, and DIY pedis whenever you can.

And, finally, be sure to get enough sleep. Consistent poor quality sleep can have wide-ranging negative effects: it can raise blood pressure, increase appetite and have a negative impact on our ability to learn and store memories. Make your bedroom a sanctuary, banish devices, and create a little sleep routine for yourself to further follow your self-nurturing resolution.

A Resolution’s Not Just For Christmas

So, in summary, for your resolution to have a chance of making it beyond the first few weeks of January, we need to get really clear about exactly what we want to achieve and - crucially - our motivation behind it. Breaking down our goal into manageable chunks is a great strategy, too, as is having regular pat-on-the-back celebratory sessions to mark our achievements along the way.

If language learning goals are where it’s at for you this year, or if you’re determined to clear off some of the debt generated by a lockdown-fused frenzy of buying online, then having the right mindset is the most potent weapon in your arsenal as well as thinking of how good it’ll feel to be one of the minority who sticks to their yearly resolution.

My resolution? I’m going to drink less wine. But probably more gin.

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