Many of us look to the New Year as a fresh start. It is a chance at doing something we have had sights on and may have never found the time (or the motivation) to actually do, whether it is losing weight, learning a new language or saving money.
But, there is much more to a New Year’s resolution than looking better in your bathing suit this summer, and mental health experts say that it actually has more to do with improving one’s feelings of competence, self-respect and confidence.
Mastery is the process of doing something over and over again until you get it right. It is about failing, but continuing on and persevering until you have reached the desired outcome. Humans have engaged in this process since the beginning of time. Even babies build mastery as they are learning to talk and walk, and children as they are learning to read and write. But, as adults, in the hustle and bustle of day to day living, we sometimes lose steam in our quest for mastery, and it has a profound impact on our self-regard.
Setting a goal and attaining it teaches us diligence, hard work, focus and hopefully rewards us in the end. Afterwards, we feel good about ourselves. Mastery builds a sense of competence that we can learn something new or achieve something we’ve always wanted. Feeling competent improves our self-respect. And, at the end of the day, it is self-respect that makes a person feel confident.
So what is the secret to coming up with a realistic yet rewarding personal goal, and how do you stick to it? Gretchen Rubin, author and blogger of The Happiness Project, says you need to ask yourself these five questions when developing your New Year’s Resolution:
- What would make me happier?
- What specific action would bring change?
- Do I resent negative resolutions?
- Does my goal need smaller benchmarks?
- How will I hold myself accountable?
Rubin says that resolutions made right can boost happiness, and we agree. For insight on these questions and more, go to The Happiness Project, “Five Questions to Ask Yourself About Your New Year’s Resolutions”