Opinion | Smaller goals are key for your new year’s resolution to succeed

By Livia LaMarca, For The Pitt News

The first of the year is often a time for new beginnings and fresh starts. For most people, it’s a time to set goals and change the way we live our lives. Maybe you want to lose weight or gain some muscle mass in the coming months. Maybe you are vowing to yourself and your parents that your second semester grades will be better than ever before.

Most of us set New Year’s resolutions on each coming first of the year, but unfortunately most of us are going to be unsuccessful. Around 80% of those who set a resolution for the New Year are going to fail by the time February rolls around, if not sooner.

The best way to actually be successful with our New Year’s resolutions is to set smaller, more manageable goals.

Let me paint you a picture we’ve all seen before or experienced ourselves. You’re unhappy with your weight so you decide on Jan. 1 to begin your weight loss journey. You buy some ingredients to start your keto diet and plan out your week to include multiple 90-minute workouts. You convince yourself that 2022 will finally be the year that you’ll lose weight.

Sign up for our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox three times a week.

Jan. 1st and 2nd were a raging success. But by Jan. 3rd you miss eating regular bread and your legs are too sore to pull yourself from bed. You end up binging on pizza for dinner and not removing yourself from the comfortable couch all day long. You tell yourself it’s okay and decide that 2023 will be your year. You’ve given up before you’ve even really gotten started.

There was only a slim chance that this massive task was actually going to be successful and, honestly, that’s perfectly okay. Many people overdo it when setting their New Year’s resolutions and get overwhelmed by the work ahead of them. One minor setback or misstep easily becomes the catalyst that makes a person give up their aspirations.

It’s very hard to achieve our goals, but it is incredibly easy to give them up. According to experts, having smaller, more timely goals act as the “rungs of a ladder.” This essentially means that in order to reach your larger aspiration at the top of the ladder, you need to go step by step on each rung in order to get there. You can’t just jump straight to the top and expect to be successful.

The larger resolutions that people create for themselves easily become intimidating because oftentimes it feels as if everything needs to be accomplished all at once. Instead of playing the long game where every little slip up feels like the end of the world, creating smaller steps for yourself lets you see success much quicker and leads to you becoming more confident in yourself and what you have done thus far.

Constantly tearing ourselves down over one mistake is detrimental to our resolutions as well as our mental health. Berating ourselves consistently is no way to live, nor is it a way to achieve the things we want. It’ll be easier to pick yourself back up and dust yourself off because you had completed goals in the past and you can complete even more once you move past this minor failure. One cheat day or bad test grade is not the end of the world — you can simply just set a new goal for yourself and move on like nothing had happened.

When we see how successful we can be when completing these smaller, much more manageable goals, it becomes significantly easier to complete all the rest. For example, it will take months to see your accomplishments on an end-of-semester report card, but you can vow to get a good grade on the test that’s coming up next week.

Another benefit of setting smaller goals for yourself throughout the year is that you can actively see your progress and how far you have come since Jan. 1. Looking back at 2022 a year from now, you’ll be able to see the successes of every single little goal you had made for yourself. If you had set just one goal or resolution, you’re probably going to spend your next December feeling like a failure and vowing to try again in January, only for the cycle to begin again. Even if you are one of the rare few who do accomplish their New Year’s resolutions, looking back on the year and seeing that you completed 30+ goals will probably feel a lot more fulfilling than completing just the one.

Planning on losing pounds is a daunting task that would leave anyone struggling. If you plan to work out five days this week and have a goal to lose five pounds by the end of the month, you are more likely to see success while still working toward your original goal, just in a much more manageable way.

So this time around, please do not feel bad if your New Year’s resolutions don’t work out — only a handful of people can stick to large goals. Now that you know the secret to success, simply try again. Start today and start small. By the end of 2022, you will be able to see just how much progress you have made and just how successful you have been over the course of the year.

Livia LaMarca mostly writes about American politics and pop culture. Write to her at [email protected].