New Year’s Resolutions and Quarterly Goals: Should You Even Bother?

It’s that time of year again. Christmas has come and gone, Boxing Day sales still going on for some reason, and it feels like just about everyone is planning their New Year’s Resolutions. Especially with the shit show that has been 2020, it can be easy to want to make 2021 your year or to promise you’ll drop the quarantine weight. But given the current state of the world, are these lofty goals really worth it?

The Case Against Resolutions

One of the major issues with making resolutions is that it’s so easy to commit to huge goals that get overwhelming (or boring) within a few weeks. If you’re used to always eating junk food and your idea of exercise is walking up a flight of stairs, you might be able to eat healthily and exercise daily for a few weeks (and honestly if you can, great job — I know I wouldn’t be able to), but ultimately, it’ll be hard to maintain your motivation for a whole year.

It can also be hard to know exactly what you’ll want a year from now. Especially given how quickly everything’s been changing lately, setting a huge goal for the entire year might be a mistake. Many countries are starting to roll out vaccines, but timelines could be disrupted pretty easily. If you planned to do something in the latter half of the year because you’re betting on things getting semi back to normal by August, you could end up being really disappointed. Ultimately, while there are a lot of promising developments, 2021 just seems too unpredictable to really commit to a singular, long-term goal.

A Quarterly Approach

Rather than trying to commit to a few major resolutions for the year, it might be a better idea to try quarterly goals. Every three months, pick an area that you want to work on and make a list of tangible steps you’ll take to achieve that goal. For example, one of my goals for the first quarter of 2021 is to write more articles, both for my blog and other websites. I have a list of websites I’m going to look into writing for and numerical goals of how many articles I want to write each month to keep myself on track. Because I know exactly what I want to do and the commitment is relatively short-term, it’s easier to keep up the motivation and actually get things done.

If you’re really set on having a New Year’s resolution, you should still consider breaking your resolution down into actionable goals for each quarter. For example, if your resolution is to eat healthier, try quarterly goals like planning and logging your food or having a smoothie each morning. Want to get in shape in 2021? How about exercising for 15 minutes when you wake up and then doing a longer exercise every few evenings? By breaking your resolutions down into quarterly goals, you can be more specific about what you want to do, what’s working best for you, and what you need to adjust, so you’ll be more successful in the long run.

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