Written by Emma Peterson (Registered Psychologist)

New Year resolutions are in full swing. New Year, New Goals, New Me. But we’ve seen it so many times before… Sadly New Year’s resolutions often don’t stick. Think about it – have yours ever? So why are we so attracted to them and what can we do instead?

New Year’s Resolutions are a long-standing tradition in our society. The ticking over of a New Year is associated with a new chance to change and resolve the things we don’t like about ourselves, filled with hope that this New Year is going to be very different than the last. Finally putting those unhelpful habits and behaviours to bed.

Forgetting that we hardly ever stick to our New Year’s resolutions, we still love to engage in the process. Why? Setting New Year resolutions is so attractive to our brains because engaging in fantasy-like thinking gives us a rush of dopamine. The sheer thinking of being a much, much more attractive version of you helps you feel better about yourself right now. I always think of New Year resolutions as like drinking a hugely indulgent hot chocolate—it feels so good while you’re doing it as the sugar rush hits your body.

So instead of engaging in this dopamine rush, let’s take a deeper, slower breath this New Year to slowly but surely craft our lives and selves in the way that we want. To start, here are some things to consider.

Ritual Haus Space

Ground Your Intentions in Identity-Based Statements

Before delving into setting a shopping list of goals, it’s crucial to establish a profound connection with your WHY. Why do you aspire to hit the gym four times a week? What drives your desire to save $10,000? Why the ambition for three overseas holidays? Grasping the essence of your motivations grounds you and infuses purpose into your objectives. Rather than merely stating, “I want to run four times a week,” shift your focus to identity-based statements. Frame your goal as a commitment to becoming a runner throughout the year. Embracing the identity of a runner transforms your goal into something more authentic, allowing for achievement even during weeks when you may not hit the four-run mark. This approach ties your aspirations to your sense of self, fostering a deeper and more meaningful connection with your objectives.

Set Yourself Up for Success

We tend to act in accordance with who we believe we are. A common pitfall of New Year’s Resolutions is that people make goals requiring such a shift in becoming a person that does behaviours so wildly different from our current ones. For example….going to the gym five times a week when they don’t currently exercise at all. Or reading one book a month when their current book count is 1/3 of three different books per year.

Let’s say your New Year’s resolution is to hit the gym five times a week. First things first, ask yourself if this intention is truly doable and something you can stick with consistently for an entire 12 months. Think about your surroundings, life’s challenges, and those cozy days in July and August when your bed feels extra inviting. Can you realistically keep up with this goal through thick and thin? To figure it out, rate your confidence on a scale of 0-100%. If it’s less than 70%, maybe consider dialling back the commitment. It’s better to set targets you can actually reach and even surpass, rather than giving up when things get tough. The key here is to keep it real and know you can adjust your intentions as your habits take root.

At home

Discover Your Core Values

Begin by understanding what truly matters to you. Recognise the behaviours that inspire you in others and those you wish to nurture within yourself to move closer to your unique vision of a meaningful and purposeful life in 2024. Numerous tools and lists are available to assist you in pinpointing your values, so invest time in gaining clarity about them. This process ensures that your New Year’s resolutions are deeply rooted in a lifestyle that aligns with your core values, reflecting the person you aspire to be. Consider incorporating your values into specific goals. For instance, if you value ‘light-heartedness,’ set goals like organising game nights, beach dates, engaging in creative hobbies, and embracing child-like activities to embody that value in your daily life.

You are not a robot

Let go of the notion of flawlessly achieving your 2024 intentions; after all, the term “intentions” inherently implies purposeful behaviours you aim to foster more or less of in the new year. These shouldn’t morph into rigid targets or checkbox activities that foster a narrow, all-or-nothing mindset—no room for shades of grey, no allowance for the imperfect dance of being human. Recognise that, as a human, there will be slip-ups, moments of misalignment, and times when motivation wavers. Moving towards the life you desire may feel like an uphill battle at times, requiring a monumental effort.

In these challenging moments, adhering to our intentions becomes demanding. A psychological tool I often employ with clients is the concept of “Yes AND…” Consider someone who set a goal to cook more regularly at home in 2024. Fast forward to week three of January, and the family finds themselves settling for another Uber Eats dinner on a Tuesday night. In this scenario, I encourage the client to acknowledge the present circumstance: “I am eating takeaway for the second night AND I can make a decision now to prepare a homemade lunch to take to work tomorrow.” For the person aiming to hit the gym four mornings a week, it might sound like, “Yes, I’ve skipped the gym twice this week AND I am deciding to go for a walk over my lunch break in service of my health intentions.” This approach allows for flexibility and self-compassion, acknowledging setbacks while creating space for positive choices moving forward. This approach allows up to appraise each moment as a new opportunity to make a values-aligned decision, avoiding the all-too-common pitfall of writing off a whole day, a whole week or a whole month.

Success in 2024

Purposefully Stuff Up Early… And Then Keep Moving Forward!

Quite a while ago when I was younger, when the New Year ticked over, I instantly became a ‘different’ person. The phone scroll and salt and vinegar chip-eating habit I had on the 31st December just didn’t exist on January 1st – through sheer willpower, I completely overcame my habits for the first few weeks of the year.

But of course, because willpower will wane and does not work as a long-term solution, not even one month into the ‘New Year New Me’ plan I failed: I scrolled on my phone, and I ate salt and vinegar chips. Not even just ate but ate a lot because I was so chip-deprived.

What this demonstrates is a classic faulting thought cognition, all-or-nothing (or black and white) thinking, which New Year resolutions are so commonly founded on. All-or-nothing thinking is a tendency to see things in a polarised way, ignoring the possibility of a middle ground. I was either a salt and vinegar chip devourer, or I was a salt and vinegar chip abstainer. I hadn’t realised that eating salt and vinegar chips was not inherently a good or bad thing; and I could still achieve my health goals while eating these chips in moderation (the grey zone!).

Fast forward to now, I have no attachment or anxiety to the New Year. In fact, I purposefully eat some chocolate or chips on the 1st of Jan as a reminder that it is not all or nothing. My goals are centred more around developing healthier habits when facing boredom or stress. I don’t aim for perfect clean eating, but I do aim to nourish my body and eat mindfully as much as possible.

In Summary

Wrapping this up as we bid farewell to 2023, let’s remember to ground our intentions in identity-based statements, set achievable goals, and embrace our core values. Through doing so we can create a more authentic and sustainable path to personal growth. Remember, you are not a robot—allow room for imperfections, acknowledge setbacks with a “Yes and…” mindset, and view each moment as a fresh opportunity to align with your values. Purposefully embracing the grey can lead to a more balanced and fulfilling journey towards the life you aspire to live. Cheers to a New Year filled with meaningful progress and self-discovery!

Date: December 2023

Comments +

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Daily Rituals Guide

At Ritual Haus, practicing daily rituals is what light's us up!

We live by this ethos and know the benefits it brings to our wellbeing. Rising with the sun, spending time in nature, journaling our inner thoughts and meditating daily is just a few of these practices that we know enriches our soul.

We have created a complementary guide with the intention to support you in cultivating daily rituals that inspire you to continue to return home to your most grounded, peaceful and authentic version of self.

Are you Ready To Rediscover yourself?

Let us help you!

Sign up for our weekly love letters as well as some beautifully and carefully curated resources for you to keep and use as part of your every day rituals.