To be effective, our goals need to be rooted in our values. It’s helpful if we can understand what it is that is most important to us as we set ourselves goals. And here, Neale et al (2011) suggest, we can ask: what does this value bring me? What does it mean to me?
Now our attitudes and beliefs can help us move forward to achieve our goals, or they can get in the way. Our values motivate us, our beliefs and attitudes also sway us and influence our behaviour. Sometimes our beliefs can be limiting (e.g. I’m not good enough, I can’t do that), and this is then reflected in our behaviour which manifests these beliefs as a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. (e.g. “I’m not good at meetings”, lo and behold, I trip over my words, get flustered, and then retreat into austere silence in my meeting). They might not always coincide with our values, but these beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours can be entrenched habits. So as we’re looking at making our resolutions, we need to ask ourselves: do my beliefs and attitudes support me to realise what is important to me? Is there anything that is getting in the way of me realising my goals?
Secondly, I wanted to consider how we might set about formulating resolutions in a world in flux. Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy has recently been talking about her (non-clinical) term ‘pandemic flux syndrome’ to describe a host of behaviours that are emerging in response to living liminally in the pandemic. Cuddy describes how being suspended on a tightrope between constantly shifting markers of normalcy and crisis causes some people to want to ‘shut down’ and escape and others to want to take control. We might see this emerging in ‘The Great Resignation of 2021’: resigning and changing jobs is one possible way of taking control. Cuddy talks people about being ‘denied a fresh start moment’ due to constant pandemic instability. This might cause us to think about where we might want our resolutions to provide us with a fresh start, and where and whether this might be possible. I’ll come back to this in a moment. It’s important to contextualise Cuddy’s work in light of research so far that shows that in spite of enduring uncertainty and loss, people are incredibly resilient.