There’s something about the new year that fills us with hope and a sense of possibility. This new beginning inspires many people to make New Year’s resolutions. Often these resolutions are changes that people have thought of throughout the year, and even changes they have tried to make in the past.
Many people make the same resolutions each year, and they fail to keep these resolutions year after year. One reason people don’t keep their resolutions is because they get discouraged. People who experience repeated failures can develop a sense of helplessness and doubt in their ability to succeed. They may start to interpret setbacks as failures, rather than as obstacles to overcome.
Tips to making (and keeping) your New Year’s resolutions:
1. Think about what you can realistically accomplish. Making changes will take both time and effort. Consider your other responsibilities, available time, and energy level as you make your resolutions.
2. Think in terms of behaviors, not just end results. If your goal is to lose weight, the end result is your goal weight. The behaviors related to this goal may be the decision to exercise three times a week, eating out once a week or less, and planning healthy meals each week.
3. Set smaller goals and monitor your progress. Breaking the task into smaller steps will help you stay motivated, help you feel less overwhelmed, and give you a sense of accomplishment as you complete each step. For example, if your goal is to write a book by the end of the year, give your self deadlines for chapters or for number of pages to complete.
4. Predict potential challenges, and decide in advance how you will deal with them. Making major changes is a difficult task, and you will face setbacks along the way. Setbacks will be easier to overcome if you have already planned how you will deal with them.
5. Decide who you will rely on to help you meet your goal. This may be a supportive friend, a personal trainer, mentor, or teacher. Having social support, accountability, and professional expertise can mean the difference between success and failure.
6. Consider getting assistance from a professional counselor. For many people, self-doubt and fear of failure are major roadblocks to success. A counselor can help people overcome these feelings in order to reach their goals.
Dr Julia Becker
Licensed Psychologist Waco Texas USA