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Beyond Resolutions – The Power Of Year-Round Reflection And Evaluation For Personal Growth

Written by: Gary Bennett, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Gary Bennett

With the onset of a new year, many people embark on the tradition of setting New Year's resolutions. These often involve ambitious, well-meaning goals such as losing weight, adopting healthier habits, or pursuing long-held aspirations. Whilst the idea of starting afresh personally in parallel with a new calendar year appears motivating and appealing, there's a growing perspective that the focus on resolutions might be better replaced by a continuous process of reflection and evaluation throughout the entire year. In this article, we will explore the limitations of New Year's resolutions and make a case for the enduring benefits of regularly reviewing, reflecting, and evaluating one's life and goals.

Woman is looking at multicolored notes about new year resolutions.

The limitations of new year's resolutions


Short-lived enthusiasm

The enthusiasm that accompanies the start of a new year can lead to the setting of overly ambitious resolutions. People may have a renewed desire to make the change they have been putting off, along with adopting the ‘New Year, new me’ catchphrase, however, this initial burst of motivation often fades quickly. A study by the University of Scranton reveals that a mere 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s goals, with a significant number abandoning their resolutions by February. 


All or nothing mentality

Resolutions are often framed as strict, all-encompassing changes. This 'all or nothing' mentality can set individuals up for failure if they are unable to meet their own lofty expectations. The pressure to stick to resolutions can lead to feelings of guilt and discouragement.


Lack of specificity

Many resolutions are too vague such as “get in shape” or “eat healthier,” but, without SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) targets, it can be challenging to track progress and stay motivated.


External pressures

The cultural and social emphasis on New Year's resolutions can make individuals feel obligated to conform to specific goals. This external influence may not align with personal needs, values, or readiness for change.


Underestimating the willpower required

Resolutions often require a significant amount of willpower and self-discipline to stay on track let alone be achieved. Overlooking this can lead to setbacks and push people to abandon their resolutions completely.


The case for year-round reflection and evaluation


Flexibility and adaptability

Life is dynamic, and circumstances can change throughout the year. A rigid resolution made in January may not be suitable in June. Regular reflection allows individuals to adapt their goals to align with evolving priorities, challenges and opportunities.


Holistic growth

Year-round reflection enables individuals to consider various aspects of their lives, fostering a holistic approach to personal growth. It encourages self-awareness and a deeper understanding of one's values, strengths, and areas for improvement.


Continuous Learning

Setting and achieving goals is a process of continuous learning. Regularly evaluating progress allows individuals to learn from both successes and setbacks, making necessary adjustments and refining their approach over time. Psychologist Carol Dweck’s research at Stanford University highlights that a growth mindset, characterised by the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed with time and effort, helps people attain long-term success.


Reduced burnout

The pressure to achieve resolutions within a specific timeframe can lead to burnout. A more sustainable approach involves setting realistic, incremental goals that can be adjusted as needed. Year-round reflection mitigates the risk of burnout by promoting steady progress.


Practical strategies for year-round reflection and evaluation


Monthly check-ins

Allocate time at the end of each month to assess your progress, celebrate achievements, and identify areas that require attention. This regular check-in provides a manageable timeframe for reflection and ensures that adjustments are made promptly.


Journaling

Maintaining a journal allows for ongoing self-reflection. Write about your experiences, emotions, and insights. Documenting your journey provides a valuable resource for identifying patterns, tracking growth, and recognizing areas that need improvement.


Goal revision

Be open to revising your goals based on changing circumstances. If an initial resolution no longer aligns with your priorities or values, consider modifying it or setting new goals that better reflect your current aspirations.


Feedback seeking

Actively seek feedback from trusted friends, mentors, or peers. External perspectives can offer valuable insights and different angles that may not be apparent during self-reflection. Constructive feedback provides an opportunity for growth.


Mindfulness practices

Incorporate mindfulness practices into your routine, such as meditation, priming or deep reflection. These practices help in developing self-awareness, fostering a clearer understanding of your thoughts, feelings, and motivations.


While the tradition of making New Year's resolutions is deeply ingrained in our culture, it is essential to recognise their limitations and consider alternative approaches to personal growth. Year-round reflection and evaluation offer a more flexible, adaptive, and sustainable way to pursue goals. By embracing this continuous process, individuals can foster holistic growth, learn from their experiences, and create a more fulfilling and meaningful life.


The decision to share or keep one's goals private is a deeply personal choice. Some people find solace in sharing their aspirations with others as a means of creating external accountability and a sense of not being able to fail in the public eye. This external accountability can serve as a powerful motivator, spurring individuals to stay on track and make progress. Conversely, there are those who prefer to keep their goals close to their chest, sharing them only with themselves allowing for a more intimate and self-directed journey towards personal growth.


So, as you step into the new year, remember that personal development is a journey, and whether you choose to support or to go alone, the path to success is paved with consistent reflection, adaptation, and a commitment to lifelong learning.


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Gary Bennett Brainz Magazine
 

Gary Bennett, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Gary has 12 years of experience as a dedicated primary school teacher. Beyond the classroom, he serves as a private tutor, specializing in aiding children who face challenges in accessing mainstream education due to emotional dysregulation. As a certified Young Life Coach and Master NLP practitioner, Gary is committed to supporting young individuals dealing with issues like anxiety, bullying, low self-confidence, and self-esteem. His mission is to empower them to overcome limiting beliefs, ultimately enabling them to lead happier, more fulfilling lives. Gary’s multifaceted expertise positions him as a compassionate and effective advocate for the well-being and growth of young minds.

 

Reference:

  • University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology: Norcross, J.C., & Vangarelli, D.J. (1988). The resolution solution: Longitudinal examination of New Year’s change attempts. Journal of Substance Abuse, 1(2), 127-134.

  • Mindset Works (Carol Dweck’s Research): Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House.

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