A New Year, A New You?

Each January, millions of people attempt to improve something in their lives by committing to a New Year’s Resolution – a promise to themselves that, this year, things will be different.  By February, many of those resolutions are forgotten or discarded. 

What happens to our resolve?

We set a goal that is too large.

Smaller steps toward a larger goal help you to experience success along the way and evaluate what to do next (or whether you want to continue).

We catch a bad case of the “shoulds.” 

We think we should lose weight, should be more organized, should stop smoking.  When we try to do something we think we “should” do, we can feel resentful and uninvested.

We try to go it alone. 

Change is hard.  When we try to do it all by ourselves, it can be easy to get exhausted and discouraged.

When we don’t follow through on our resolutions, we can feel like we’ve failed.

What can we do?

Focus on what you want, phrased in positive language. 

When we phrase our goals in positive language, in present tense, we train our minds to look for the positive.  So, instead of “I will stop smoking,” try “I breathe clean, fresh air,” or instead of “I will stop spending money,” try “I use my money to buy the necessities in life” or “I use my money for things that bring meaning and joy to my life.”

Evaluate why you want to make this resolution. 

Are you making this resolution to please others? Because you feel obligated?  Because you should?  Consider your investment in and motivation for the resolution.  Doing it for others rarely works.

Get support. 

Having others cheer you on (or doing it with you) can make the difference between sticking with it or not.  We feel accountable to those others. 

Remember, we can resolve to change any time we want.  Positive mental, physical, and spiritual health are lifelong resolutions – promises to ourselves that are worthy of keeping! 


Author: Mary Gagnon, LMFT, Training and Clinical Development Specialist & Outpatient Therapy Supervisor, Health Affiliates Maine

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