New Year Resolutions Often Fall Short
It’s about to be January and with the new year often comes a push to set new years goals and resolutions. We are transitioning from holidays and celebrations to reflection and growth. While self-reflection is vital and important year round, New Year’s resolutions can fall short of the revolutionary change we often wish for. According to a recent article, most individuals will have given up their goals by the end of January. While people want to grow, just picking a goal and being motivated isn’t enough.
When Goals Aren’t Grounded in Meaning
While on some level we know that we are not perfect and that we have limits, we can sometimes function as if we should be exceeding at all things all the time. January can serve as a checkpoint for all the ways we aren’t measuring up and we subsequently make goals around eliminating our imperfections. Have you ever set out on the New Year with unrealistic resolutions or goals? Or maybe, you set too many goals without a clear sense or purpose as to why you are trying to improve in all these areas?
Below is an antidote demonstrating why we need to know what is important to us. Read and determine if there are any similarities in your own experience.
Knowing what’s important to you matters in goal setting
Jan is a focused and diligent worker. While grabbing dinner with a few friends, Jan starts feeling guilty about areas where she perceives she is lacking. Her friend Anthony has been doing 5am workouts everyday for 12 months. He excitedly shares that he is now going to train for a marathon next year as a part of his new years resolution. Jan thinks, “I really need to get more consistent at the gym! I should make it a goal to go every work day of the new year!”.
When her friend Tara excitedly shares how she just met her reading goal for the year, Jan thinks, “I really need to read more too. If I could just perfect my evening routine, I bet I could read for 20 minute each night. Except, my night time routine with the kids is a mess. If I just was able to get ahead on meal planning our evenings would be so much better. But, if I’m going to get into meal planning, my partner and I really need to work on communication. They never help around the house. Ok, so I just need to work on communication, meal planning, and my night time routine so that I can read 20 books a year.”
This process repeats for Jan throughout the evening. Every time someone shares about what they are doing or what they’ve accomplished, Jan feels like she needs to be doing it too. By the end of the night she has a long list of things she wants to work on in the coming year. Jan finishes the list and she is overwhelmed with all that she has to do!
Have you ever found yourself in a situation like Jan where you are setting goals and creating plans based on the achievements of others around you? During a time of year where people might be sharing all that they are doing and are going to accomplish, how can you determine what is actually worth your time?
Values Guiding your Goals
We are suggesting another path for making a difference in your life. Research has indicated that the more aligned your goals are to your core values, the more likely they are to stick (article). So rather than starting with “What do I want to change or accomplish this year?” we should first be starting with, “What do I value?” By first knowing what is important to you, you can prioritize actions and habits that actually matter to you. Read below for more information on why knowing your values is important and how to include your values into your yearly goal planning.
Using your Values to evaluate your goals
This is where knowing your values helps you determine what’s important to you. If one of Jan’s values is curiosity she might want to prioritize her goal of reading over the goal around meal planning. There is no right or wrong answer. It’s about prioritizing what is important to you so that you can make a difference. She can sift through the ideas she has and compare them to her values. A few questions to consider are:
- What value is this goal aligned with?
- What value do I want to practice while working towards this goal? (Ex. While working on meal planning I want to bring my values of curiosity, patience, growth mindset within my practice.)
- What would success look like in this goal and how does that relate to my core values?
Creating Goals from your Core Values
Maybe you’re not like Jan. You don’t have too many goals to choose from, you don’t have any! Starting with your core values can prompt thinking on what you could prioritize. After determining what your core values are (check out this article here for help on this), consider these questions to prompt your thinking:
- What value do I hold in my mind but am not currently living in alignment with? (an example might be you value community but haven’t engaged in or reached out to those in your community)
- What value do I want to take further action on?
- What do I need to know or do in order to better understand and embody this value that I hold?
Making a plan
Those who set a plan around their goal are much more likely to meet that goal. Below is an example of how making a plan around your core values might look like:
- Personal core value: Generosity
- How might I live in further alignment with this value I hold? I want to give away $___ of my income each month to organizations that I support. I also want to be more intentional around being generous with my time and volunteering for organizations I support.
- Plan for reaching this goal: On the first Sunday of every month, I’ll review my calendar and sign up for at least 1 volunteer shift a month. During that Sunday meeting with myself, I’ll also review my finances and make a donation to ___ or ____ organization.
Your plan doesn’t need to be elaborate, but it does need accountability. Having a clear goal that is easy to measure will make it easier to hold yourself accountable to meeting the goal.
Core Values in action
On social media, The Educator Academy has been sharing our core values and how they show up for us. We’ve been describing The Educator Academy’s core values and how they impact our work as a means of prompting your own thinking and planning for the new year. Rather than telling you what you should value, we are sharing our values as an example of how your own values might impact you and your life.
Examples of Values in Action
- Mission Driven – At The Educator Academy, we fundamentally believe that by developing highly effective teachers we can create equitable classrooms where all students will learn and maximize their potential.
- This goal in action: We aim to keep our mission at the forefront of all the work that we do. Practically this looks like prioritizing highest leverage moves and actions in regards to developing highly effective teachers and equitable classrooms. Being mission driven is all about prioritizing and focusing on the most important thing, which for us is developing highly effective teachers.
- Growth Mindset – At The Educator Academy we value progress. Leveraging feedback and reflection, we celebrate accomplishments, acknowledge challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth, and contribute to a community of individuals who seek to continuously develop.
- This goal in action: Rather than using an all or nothing approach to growth, we value the process of learning. This means engaging in regular feedback on a weekly basis and framing mistakes as opportunities to learn.
- Care and Love – At The Educator Academy, we strive to illuminate and uncover ourselves as educators and deepen our empathy and commitment to our students, selves, team, families, and our city. We cultivate communities that ground each person in affirmation, value, support, and safety.
- This goal in action: We hold ourselves accountable to using asset based language when talking about the communities we work with.
Whether you engage in new year resolutions, words of the year, or vision boards, we invite you to prioritize your goals in your own values. By creating goals that are more aligned with things that matter to you, you’re more likely to make a lasting change and impact your work.