How To Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

It’s by continuous self-reflection. Always has been.

Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

We’re almost at the end of the year. I know — you can’t wait for this year to be over. The year that feels like you were forced to sit through the cult classic, Manos: The Hands of Fate on loop (hey it’s not that bad).

You probably have already heard of your friends’ declarations of their new year resolutions — their hopes and dreams. And, you might already have one as well.

Your list of what you want to do (and keep doing) probably look something like this:

  • I’ll read every day next year.
  • I’ll start working out next year.
  • I want to stop smoking next year.
  • I’ll publish my first article on Medium next year.
  • I want to have a chiseled jawline. So, I’ll chew two Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum after my meal, for one hour, five times a day, every day.

Okay. Maybe not the last one.

The point is, most people have a list of the things they want to start and stop doing, especially after this year. And no, I’m not going to ridicule you for having new year’s resolutions. I have one too (chiseled jawline remember?).

In fact, I’m going to tell you to pat yourself on the back.

Why? You might ask.

Because you’ve already reflected on your state of life. You’re already at the starting line on a journey to change your life. Those people who think new year, new me is bullshit are the ones with the defeatist mindset — they’re not even at the starting line. They don’t even bother to get to the starting line.

Real Change Starts With Self-Reflection

Since I don’t have any credibility, and you’ll only believe when a famous person says it,

“A consciousness of wrongdoing is the first step to salvation… you have to catch yourself doing it before you can correct it.“ — Seneca

Seneca said the first thing you need to have before you begin the process of changing your life is to have the self-awareness a.k.a. the ability to reflect on yourself.

Your new year’s resolutions are the product of your self-reflection. Then, you’ll have to execute your resolutions.

It’s quite a simple concept to grasp. First, you need to be aware of what you’re doing wrong. Then you make a plan to fix it. And finally, you do the work to fix it.

  1. Reflection
  2. Resolution
  3. Execution

Self-Reflection is a Superpower

Self-reflection is a must-have ability in your arsenal. It’s the secret art to make lemonade from lemons.

But, here’s the catch. Most people only reflect on themselves once — the beginning of the year. What people don’t realize is they need to keep reflecting on themselves throughout their journey of reinventing their lives.

You need to continuously reflect on yourself to strengthen your resolution. A strong resolution (or motivation) will spring you into action.

Let’s imagine how the process of change or how I would like to call it, the road to redemption. It sounds grander, and more dramatic that way.

After all, life is a grand-dramatic-emotional adventure you never signed up for.

The Road to Redemption

It’s the 1st of January, 2021. Time for you to execute your plan.

Motivated by the abstract concept we call time; you begin to walk the road to redemption that you’ve drawn up for yourself.

You take your very first step… and it’s actually easier than you think. Hold up. Why didn’t I start doing this earlier? It’s not that hard, you thought.

You marched into your second step, and then the third.

On your nineteenth step, you start to get tired. Your legs feel like jelly. You glanced at the horizon, and you still can’t see anything.

Self-doubt enters your mind. You have an internal debate with yourself. You begin to question your entire existence and the purpose of change.

You tell yourself that you don’t have it in you. After all, not everyone becomes great.

You make an excuse, that you were born to be ordinary — another John Doe in the world full of John Does.

Exhausted from the noise in your head, you decided to sit down — defeated.

You scan the area.

Nothing — except a pond.

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

You drag your legs to the pond — to distract yourself from the deafening self-defeated thoughts in your mind.

And then, you see a reflection of yourself.

You begin unraveling the reflection, bit by bit.

You first noticed that nothing has changed. It’s the same old you. And then you went deeper, down the memory lane. You reminisce about your past.

You recall the memories from years ago.

  • That one time your friend handed you your first cigarette.
  • The first time you snoozed your morning alarm and chose to snooze it again the next day, and the next, until it finally becomes a habit.
  • That you’ve always procrastinated on your work to browse social media. And how it becomes an escape for you when facing an arduous task — and you ended up with mediocre work.

And then you realize, everything that you did up until now — matters.

Your friends, your habits, the experiences — they shaped you as a person, shaped your life that you have lived and will live if you stop walking now.

Eureka!

You chuckled. You laughed at the absurdity of your thought, of your entitlement.

You realized; you’ve taken thousands of steps on the road to damnation. Why would the road to redemption be any less?

You smiled. Your feet begin to move on their own.

Twenty, you whispered to yourself.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the power of self-reflection.

Every time life knocks you to the ground, every time you start to doubt yourself:

Breathe. Deep.

Go to a quiet place. Make yourself comfortable. Let your mind wanders. And watch the magic unfold.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” — Socrates

To re-design your life, you first need to re-examine it.

Thanks for your time.

Math grad. Writer.

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