“Change jobs”, “lose weight”, “read a book a week”, “learn to play the cello”, “conquer Everest” – these and other dreams of varying degrees of realism, we generously think of under the chiming clock, and sometimes even make a whole list of goals for a year. But the New Year holidays pass, and after a few weeks no one even remembers what he planned there. Why is it so important for us to start the year with “The Plan” and how is it that we push it out of our heads at the first opportunity? Do such lists even work with goals for the year? “Secret” asked psychologist Anna Kryuchkova and project producer Emma Mikheykina.
There are many New Year’s traditions associated with planning and contemplation. Someone is drinking champagne with the ashes of burnt wishes, someone is guessing at Christmas time. Many are not limited to one desire and make whole lists with Napoleonic plans for the coming year. Some even publish these lists on their blogs, publicly giving loud promises to themselves. But often no one is in a hurry to fulfill them.
Project producer and consultant Emma Mikheykina highlights several common New Year’s wish strategies.
Wishes made under the chiming clock both realistic and magical. Mikheykina advised not to plan this desire in advance, but to note what you spontaneously think about first of all in a situation where you need to quickly decide what you most want next year? What area of your life will the desire belong to? Many factors can intervene here, but most often in the moment you will guess what you really think about the most. This is a good opportunity to honestly look at real priorities.
Letter to myself. According to the consultant, this is one of the best planning tools for the year. Write a letter to yourself-in-a-year about how you hope to spend this year, what to achieve, what to do, where you see yourself in a year. This does not have to be done on New Year’s Eve, you can do it at the end of December, or you can already in January. The main thing is to write in a good mood and alone, so that no one distracts and gives advice. Make the plans you like. You can write a letter on paper and seal it in an envelope that you will open on the next New Year, you can do it electronically, for example, by sending yourself a delayed message. The main thing is to make sure that it gets to you in a year, but you have not looked into it before.
Goal lists for the year. A very insidious tool that can both help and permanently drive away from the topic of planning. Works only in conjunction with summing up. If you wrote such a list a year ago, you need to look at what has come true, what has not, and (obviously!) For what reasons. If the previous list does not exist, then simply sum up the subtotal for each area of life that is important to you to indicate the current status and general direction. What happened a year ago in this area, what is it now, where is it going and how much do you like it. This will be the basis from which you can build on the new list.
You will be surprised how much of what is written will come true. There is no mysticism in this, this is how our brain works – it regards such plans as a task. So plan generously and positively.
According to psychologist Anna Kryuchkova, plans, goals, intentions, lists of tasks and desires are an integral part of the rituals of preparing for the new year for many people. But when you sum up the results of the outgoing year, do you look at these lists? Many at this moment, the psychologist noted, are disappointed and annoyed, since far from everything that has been planned becomes real achievements. At the same time, some of them swear by oath that next year they won’t gouge, while others decide “well, these lists don’t work anyway.”
Nevertheless, Kryuchkova herself considers the practice of making lists of goals and making wishes rather useful.
Goal setting is what we need to get our bearings. Without this, there is no set direction for movement and development, which means that it covers with a feeling of emptiness and aimlessness. There is a feeling that your life has ceased to depend on you and it is carried like a small boat in the ocean. So-so feeling, especially if you are an anxiety prone person and the very thought of losing control of your life is stressing you out.
But why do we forget about our goals or give them up as soon as we start? According to the psychologist, in moving towards the goal, the accumulated disappointment from unrealized plans greatly slows down. It becomes a kind of habit to plan and not achieve. Then the brain rightly decides: why allocate resources for this business and fuss, if in the end we still don’t get any satisfaction, because we stumble over disappointment? It hurts too much. And people decide that it’s better to forget about their dream altogether and “sweep it under the rug” on the sly.
Kryuchkova suggested trying a simple practice: extract your list of goals and desires for the past year and tell yourself as if you were chatting about it with an old friend: why didn’t you manage to realize them? Think back to what you really did last year. Most likely, you solved those problems and tasks that turned out to be more priority and significant.
No need to scold and cut yourself for unfulfilled, like a teacher for homework not done. It is important to recognize the right to change your plans depending on the situation and what has become the most important in the past year.
The psychologist noted two points that should be considered in order to motivate yourself to still someday achieve your goals.
The property of the psyche by all means to protect us from pain (aggression against us, swearing, criticism, disappointment) and unnecessary expenditure of energy. Our brain is evolutionarily aimed at saving resources, so any, even the smallest step in the right direction is already your inner victory. If you learn to notice and respect even your small efforts and victories, and not take them for granted, you will receive resources for further victories. The more regular the rewards for the right actions, the faster they will become a habit.
One of our most important and very limited resources is attention. In our psyche, a lot of parallel processes are constantly going on, most of which we are not aware of. All this requires a huge amount of energy. But if you regularly pay attention to those aspects and areas of your life in which you want to make changes, and positively reinforce your successes, the brain itself will begin to help you.
As long as your desire is one of a bunch of others, the turn may not reach it. But when it becomes the leading one, the brain more readily redirects the necessary resources of the body to it. You begin to notice opportunities, find different ways to solve problems that arise, and more easily stay focused on what you want. That is, first you make an effort to realize your task as really important (and step-by-step planning is one of the tools). Create an image of what you want, change behavior, take the first steps. And then, when your brain is sufficiently involved and engaged in this task, you already receive support in the form of more access to your internal resources.
Emma Mikheykina advised to approach the compilation of lists of goals for the year wisely, and not just anyhow. Here are the general principles that you can rely on.
- Realize that a wish list and a goal list are not the same thing. But writing down all the “wishlists” and then thinking through a list of goals based on them is a completely working plan. At the same time, look in which area you have the biggest deficit and how the list of what you want is reflected in those goals that you consider important.
- Keep track of whether your desires contradict each other or what already exists in your life and suits you.
- Think about what kind of person you need to be, what to change in yourself and your habits in order to achieve the written goals. Do you really want this and are you ready to put in the effort?
- Estimate what problems and difficulties the fulfillment of the written goals will bring into your life? Are you ready for them? If you do not think about it in advance, this item will subconsciously slow you down.
- If you’re setting goals during your holiday slumber, ask yourself how the steps towards them will fit into your daily life. Do you have time or do you need to free it first?
- Break big goals into small ones, think over the stages, distribute achievements throughout the year so as not to try to catch everything by the next December deadline. What should be done by the summer? Where do we need to be by autumn? Does this task fit in a year? Or is it too small for the year, and you will reach this goal in the winter?
Ultimately, the consultant recommended combining two formats: making wishes and planning goals. Don’t take everything too seriously as a work project – first give yourself space and space to just daydream. So you can find what causes you the greatest excitement and motivates you to take immediate action, calibrate your internal compass. And after that, you can start more rational planning.
Most importantly, remember that lists of goals and desires should not consist only of solving problems – we also sometimes have to set such goals, but they take more energy than they give. And you can make them not only for the New Year, but also at any time when you are ready to somehow change your life for the better.
Collage: Secret of the Company, Unsplash/Noel Nichols, Christa Dodoo, Unsplash License, pngwing.com