I promise: a guide to emotionally intelligent New Year’s resolutions
In 2022, I promise to spend more time with my family. I promise to organize my office and go through all my emails. I promise to eat healthier and lose 10 pounds. I promise to start a new hobby – mostly because I spend more time indoors. I promise to keep a journal every night and manage my finances better.
Does that sound like your promises for 2022? Or for every year over the past decade? Here’s the problem with promises, especially those called New Year’s Eve resolutions – they’re hard to keep.
What are we missing? We promise each other the same things year after year, as if we didn’t know our own record! We set goals, we share them with others, and by the end of January we’re back to the same behaviors we promised to change. To make matters more complex this year, we’ve been through uncertain and stressful times, where old rules have been dropped, social norms have changed, and the people and places we rely on may or may not be there to help us ( for example, it is difficult to promise that we will go to the gym when we do not even know if it will be open).
Nonetheless, we will continue to make these resolutions. So we might as well continue to try to improve our chances of success.
7 guides to making resolutions for 2022:
- Give yourself permission to feel your feelings.
Listen to the emotions that spark your resolutions. Our joy, for example, can cause us to commit to spending more time with those who bring us joy. Our disappointment is a guide to avoiding some others. Our envy can cause us to work harder to achieve something. Our solo contentment may cause us to resolve to plan some quiet time.
Focus on improving the positive experiences and enjoyment of the activity rather than the âshould doâ or just the purpose of the activity itself.
Allow yourself to reflect and be guided by the way you to want feel. For example, healthy and fit! If your resolve is to exercise, frame as “Training in the morning to de-stress and gain energy” rather than “training to lose 20 pounds and ultimately get lean”.
- Try to cut instead of cut.
Try to be flexible and moderate rather than rigid or extreme when trying to quit a habit or suppress a behavior. If we try to completely eliminate the habits that we rely on throughout our daily lives, we might want them even more. For example, if your goal is to quit drinking four cups of coffee a day, don’t eliminate coffee from your diet entirely on January 1. Try to take three cups a day for a week, then two cups a day the following week, etc.
- Keep doing what you love to do.
Maintain the activities that you enjoy. Rather than stopping your life on January 1 to focus on your resolution list, think about what brings you joy and keeps you motivated. Remember, we don’t need to cut out parts of our life to make room for new ones; we can adapt. For example, if your resolution is to spend more time with your family, you don’t need to give up on your friends. You can just add family to your calendar. Most of the time, we don’t have to choose; we just need to think about the future.
- Be ambitious and realistic.
Create realistic goals. No one knows you better than yourself. Yes, you can surpass yourself even if you create meaningful goals that are aware of your abilities. After all, if we aim for the moon and miss it, we will be among the stars. For example, if you make a commitment to clear your email inbox every night and you still don’t make it halfway through, use that as an opportunity to be realistic, regroup, and set some goals. new expectations.
- Go ahead and learn.
Accept mistakes and failures. When we try new things, we are not meant to be perfect. Rather than giving up and calling your goal “impossible” when you don’t reach it, try again. If we were all perfect, achieving our goals would not be so satisfying. For example, if your goal is to run a marathon and you are too exhausted to finish, identify what was hardest for you and use the experience to focus your training. If you make a commitment to meet your working deadlines and you miss one, take the opportunity to reflect on your work habits. Let your disappointment guide you to something new. As your next deadline approaches, try a different work schedule.
- Seek support from others and give back.
Rely on your friends and family for support. Have the courage and foresight to ask for help, perhaps in the form of a reminder. Even though resolutions are “personal” goals, the people you surround yourself with can help make your goals more attainable and give you wisdom and encouragement along the way. You can also be their cheerleader and support your friends and family in their efforts to achieve their goals. Focusing on others can be rewarding, and watching them “get there” can be. inspiring.
- Give yourself grace.
Incorporate positive affirmations into the process of reaching your goals. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves this holiday season and for all of 2022 is self-compassion. It will take practice to include yourself in the circle of people to whom you are kind. As we practice grace and self-compassion, we don’t let ourselves (and others for that matter) “get away with it”, but we do remember what it’s like to be human.
Choosing to embark on a new resolution is like choosing a new path to follow. There is excitement and trepidation, but before you can progress you need to make sure the road is clear. By paying attention to your barriers at the start, you pave the way for a more serene journey.
Robin Stern, Ph.D. is Co-Founder and Associate Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Private Practice Psychoanalyst and author of The gas lamp effect.
Marc Brackett, Ph.D. is the founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, professor at the Child Study Center at Yale, and author of Permission to feel.
Cecily Lipton is a researcher with a deep interest in the intersection of psychology and healthcare. She is a high school student in New York.