As another year rolls around, many of us will inevitably fall into the trap that is New Year’s resolutions. It’s not to say that they’re completely useless, but they often become counter-productive in the long run.

Much like fireworks at New Year’s, making loads of goals for yourself at the beginning of the year is likely to result in a big bang that quickly fades into nothing more than a sizzle. So the question is, how can we make our year the best one yet? And how do we achieve that without being weighed down by the expectations we have for our future selves?

We’ve all seen the posts on social media captioned with some variation of the popular catch-phrase ‘New year, new me”. It’s almost become a rite of passage for everyone to plan their year out religiously once the Christmas tree comes down (if it comes down, that is). Believe it or not, this is actually quite an ineffective way to set yourself up for success.

As you would’ve heard at some point during your schooling career, making goals that are ‘SMART’ is the smart way to go. Let’s break that acronym down with some good old examples because most of us probably haven’t been over this for a solid half-decade.

S for specific. If you want to get good grades this year, instead of purely making that your goal, dive deeper. Figure out exactly what you need to improve in each subject to bring those results out.

M for measurable. Make sure your goal is something you can actively see progress in. If you hide behind phrases like “I want to improve….” or “I want to get better at….” it becomes very easy to lose track of growth and in turn, you’ll feel unmotivated.

A for achievable. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Know yourself and what you’re capable of. It’s obviously not realistic to make a goal to get to space at the age of 14. However, you can start getting closer to that by reading more and exposing yourself to the industry.

R for relevant. Again, pretty simple. If you’re not an athletically inclined person, don’t set yourself the goal of winning cross-country. Find things you like and set goals according to your pre-existing strengths. Aligning your goals with your values will help you find success almost naturally.

As for the final letter: T for time-bound. This is where the title of this article comes in. Yes, it’s important to have certain deadlines for your goals. And yes, having deadlines will generally motivate you to work harder. But ultimately, you don’t need to start the year with the intention of changing yourself drastically to conform to society’s version of a “new me”.

Your life is a fluid timeline of change, so your goals should have the freedom to be exactly that too. Remember that as crucial as ‘SMART’ goals may be, being consistent is key and no matter how long it takes you to find success, having a “New year, same me” mindset will benefit you so much more in the long run.

Good luck everyone, have a great 2024 (:

5th February, 2024
Written by Hope Zhang, edited by Aaron Huang and Emma Li
Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Soundsplash

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