Instead of Resolutions, Make New Year’s Challenges

I may be a bit late to the party in writing about New Year’s Resolutions, but I did want to share with you a philosophy that I think you may find useful. When was the last time you made a New Year’s Resolution that you actually stuck with — for the whole year? If I’m being honest, I can’t think of one resolution that I stuck with the whole year, but then again, I can’t really remember any resolution I’ve made.

So, I submit — make a New Year’s Challenge!

First, there’s the language. A challenge is much more inviting than a resolution. (Am I right?) Second, do you know the definitions of these two words? Resolution:

A firm decision to do or not to do something.

While challenge means:

A call to take part in a contest or competition.

I don’t know about you, but a challenge — by definition! — is much more inviting. In fact, the idea of a resolution (in this context!) kind of seems a bit out there, doesn’t it? The sheer inflexibility of it nearly makes it an impossibility. It’s not fair to you to put such a stringent barrier on yourself. It’s no wonder that people fail to keep their resolutions — our ideas change all the time!

There’s another piece to this that I think is important: skills. A challenge to learn a new skill could certainly be compelling and it may expand one’s awareness. I remember last new year’s I signed up for CodeAcademy’s challenge to learn how to code. I know I didn’t finish it, but I got pretty far and it did re-jog my memory on some of the coding I’d learned in high school.

If you’re going to challenge yourself to learn a new skill, be sure to take it easy on yourself and be mindful of how you position this challenge. For instance, I’d like to learn how to play the guitar and the piano, and learn a couple of languages. It would be pretty silly of me to try to learn all of those all at once (although, some might argue that the reverse). I’m setting myself up to fail on some of these challenges. Like I said, it’s also important how I position these challenges.

For instance, it’s a bit ambiguous to say, ‘I’m going to learn Spanish or French.’ What does that mean? Do I want to be able to converse with strangers, order off of menus, work in the French government, etc. Instead of placing these kinds of targets, I’ve decided to just plan to practice French for 30 minutes a day (or 30 minutes a day during the week). This way, my skill will improve and I won’t have a vague target in the future. (As a brief aside: I’m still trying to decide between Memrise and Duolingo for practicing the new language. I may just alternate between both.)

What challenge(s) will you have for the new year?

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One response to “Instead of Resolutions, Make New Year’s Challenges

  1. Pingback: Trying to Form a New Habit: Take a Vacation | Jeremiah Stanghini's Blog

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