I never make New Years Resolutions. I’m not quite sure why. I know I’m not perfect and that there are things that I can work on, but it always seems so hard to think of one thing that I would want to change. Then there is the admitting to someone else that there is something that you want to change about yourself and to allow yourself to be vulnerable and allow them into your head to know that whatever it is, it is important to you. I am not oblivious to the fact that the last statement is a lot like therapy, although with counseling you are only telling one person, they are non-judgmental, and it should be someone you know you can trust, especially due to confidentiality, unlike telling anyone and everyone about your new years resolution.
Then there is part of me that wants to rebel because I can’t quite decide if I believe new years resolutions are a good concept because people are thinking about ways to better themselves or if I find it to be more detrimental in the long run because people wait until new years for an excuse to actually begin making changes. For this reason, I’m going to say to each their own! If you are a person that makes new years resolutions, however, here are some tips on how to make it something that you can stick to. I know, I know, I said that I don’t do them and yet am going to give advice out to others about them, but really it is just like making any other goal.
First you need to identify your goal and be specific. It is not enough to say that you want to lose weight. How much weight do you want to lose and by when? Also make sure that it is something important to you. For instance, if you say you want to lose weight because you are tired of the looks from other people but you really feel comfortable with the way that you look, you will most likely not have enough motivation to stick with this resolution. It is also important that your goal be realistic. If you are looking to drop 60 lbs in 6 months, this is just not realistic (or healthy) at the 1-2 lbs per week that is deemed healthy. No matter what it is, don’t set yourself up for failure before you have even started! What will it look like when you accomplish your goal? Looking at a different resolution, it is great to say that you will be nicer to your partner, but what will it look like when you are? How will you know and how will your partner know that you have accomplished your goal?
Once you have really thought through your resolution and have all aspects of it defined, you will then need to make a plan on how to achieve the goal. It may help to break the resolution into some smaller goals and focus on how you will reach each of them. Think about the steps necessary to achieve your goal. For instance, if this year you want to feel more connected to your friends, what must you do in order for this to happen. Think in terms of how you might need to change your thinking, your feelings, and your actions (as these are the only things you can really control). Outline the actions you need to take. You may even need to do a bit of research and reading before you can fully complete this step. This is probably the most skipped step in this whole process, but it is very important to your success.
Next you will need to begin to put your plan into action. Cut down on sugars and fats and increase exercising, or practive listening reflectively, whatever it is that you need to do. Many people begin this process (whether they have a plan or not) and follow through, but then end there, not quite sure why they haven’t had the success that they want. While you are following through with your plan, it will be necessary to evaluate your progress. Even the best planner will not be able to predict everything that might come up and there may be a need to alter your plans. Be flexible and willing to do so as necessary.
For some people, it is helpful to go through the process with a friend to keep them motivated and others may need to remind themselves consistently why they are working to make this change. You may also want to think about having someone who can help hold you accountable for your actions. This may be a friend or family member, or it may even be a professional depending on your resolution. For some people, it may even be necessary to see a counselor in order to receive the help they need to work through this process and to gain the tools necessary to make the changes they want. This is okay.
No matter what your new years resolution is, I hope you the best in accomplishing it. As for myself, this may just be the first year that I decide to make a resolution- if I can pick just one thing!