Making and keeping New Year's resolutions can be difficult for a number of reasons, such as resolutions that are inauthentic and/or resolutions that are unattainable. Setting resolutions, also known as goals, can be enjoyable, but the goals you are setting must be intentional, authentic and achievable.
These tips will help you develop ideas for New Year's resolution, formulate realistic goals, and stick to them. If you follow these tips, you will make sure that you are executing your resolutions and sticking to them.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when creating New Year's resolutions is trying to reach them alone. No matter our skill sets or our abilities, we all need the support of other people. So embrace the buddy system. Maybe ask a friend to help you figure out the steps needed to achieve your goals. Perhaps speak with a therapist attuning to the difficulties in reaching your resolutions. Cuddle your pet when it becomes very challenging. Doing it alone does not make you “stronger”, if you believe this, you are actually giving up opportunities to connect with others and enjoy the process of working on your resolutions more.
New Year's resolutions are achievable when you set strategic goals, and that is the key to success. What we mean by strategic is asking oneself - is this resolution specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound (SMART)?
Listen to the Relationship Matters podcast to learn more about SMART goals.
By setting realistic and achievable goals you are also setting yourself up to having an enjoyable time working towards these goals. It is more likely to bring you feelings of self efficacy and fulfillment rather than feelings of failure. You also set yourself up for the potential of creating new, healthy habits through the process of goal achievement.
The best way to make real progress is to set targets that are really close to your heart and to set them within a timeframe. Defining SMART goals can be a tedious process and sometimes it is helpful to seek support to do this. Setting milestones, in other words steps, that indicate progress towards your resolution is integral. Viewing it as a step-by-step process and celebrating the small successes in your progress are helpful strategies.
It is also helpful to consider smaller resolutions that take less time, willpower, and motivation, which means that you actually keep them and have more confidence in your ability to change. Small changes often lead to big changes, so keep in mind that small resolutions are also very significant and fulfilling.
If you really want to make lasting changes, you must maintain alignment with your New Year's resolution well beyond January and February if you really want to make changes. It does not hurt to start the first months of the year with one or two small goals, but remember that once you have success with one of them, you can go back and pick another goal to focus on mid-year.
To re-cap, make sure that you are setting SMART goals when thinking about your New Year’s Resolutions. Also reflect on where these resolutions are coming from to ensure that they are authentic to you. Losing 10 pounds may be something your partner(s) would want you to achieve, but does this actually matter to you? Go easy on yourself by seeing the resolution broken down into bite-sized chunks, and enjoy the experience of working towards your goal not just achieving it.
Happy New Year folks, no Happy Working on your resolutions in a SMART way!
Carling Mashinter is a Registered Psychotherapist in Private Practice. Her Practice, Inclusive with Carling, provides individual therapy, relational therapy, and sex therapy.