As November and December approach, I often feel an instinctive urge to both reflect on the year gone by and plan for the year ahead. This practice, whether due to the free time available at year's end or a habit ingrained by the annual calendar cycle, is not unique to me. A 2022 YouGov poll revealed that about 37% of Americans planned to make a New Year's resolution for 2023.
However, it's noteworthy that the average resolution typically lasts only about 3.74 months. A major hurdle with New Year's resolutions is the pressure they impose. Let's say that someone made a resolution to improve their physical health by exercising four or five times per week. Often, missing a single workout can lead to feelings of failure, causing many to abandon their resolutions. Moreover, resolutions frequently involve unrealistic goals, predisposing them to this sense of failure from the outset.
From my experience, setting broader intentions rather than rigid resolutions has been more effective. A client shared with me her preference for initiating change in the spring, a time synonymous with growth and renewal, rather than at the New Year. These perspectives highlight that reflection and growth related practices may be more effective when personalized.
This past year, I started with an intention that, by mid-year, I felt had served its purpose, leading me to establish a new one. This experience taught me that reflection and intention-setting needn't be confined to a specific time frame. What if these activities were part of a continual process?
Embracing this mindset opens up numerous possibilities for moving towards our desired definitions of success. Regular reflection allows for adjustments, helping to stay aligned with what truly matters. It enables you to discard goals that no longer resonate, replacing them with ones that better reflect your values and purpose.
So, this year, instead of committing to a single lofty resolution, consider making reflection and intention setting ongoing and adaptable processes. To guide you, consider the following approach:
1. Reflect Periodically: Choose a natural rhythm for your reflections (monthly, quarterly, etc.). Ask yourself:
2. Review Your Intention:
By adopting this flexible approach, you can make reflection and growth a dynamic part of your life, enhancing your chances of success and personal growth.
Rachel Vandenberg is a leadership coach living in Stowe, Vermont with her husband and three children. Rachel also owns and operates a hotel and attractions property with her family. She sits on the board of the local tourism association and also created a leadership retreat for women leaders in travel.