How often have you made a New Year’s resolution only to have it fail by February? You are definitely not alone. The concept of a New Year’s resolution sets you up to fail. Consider this: between Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s, we are bombarded with food, food, food, drink, excessive spending and stress. Resolving to make change after six weeks of this madness would set anyone up for failure. It is the Fat Tuesday before Lent. We load ourselves up with unhealthy behaviors in preparation for the ultimate sacrifice. We then tell ourselves that our lives will be different next year.
Why is it, then, that we find ourselves in the same boat year after year? Simply put, we fail because we put so much pressure on ourselves to change everything on that magical date of January 1st. We are conditioned for the easy fix, the magic bullet, the pill that will forever change our lives.
While this all sounds fatalistic, we are not without hope! Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to start thinking about this. If you start planning now for the changes you would like to make, it will set you up for success. Here are some guidelines to help you along:
Set a SMARTS goal:
S Pick 1 specific goal to accomplish. If you want to quit smoking, lose weight and save more money, you will likely become overwhelmed and give up.
M Make your goal measurable. When you make a measurable goal, you know when you’ve accomplished it and it builds confidence that you can continue accomplishing your goals.
A Recognize that real change takes time. So often, we want to do things as quickly as possible. If your goal, for example, is to lose weight, don’t set a goal of losing 50 pounds and feel discouraged when you have only lost 2 in the first two weeks. Setting an attainable and realistic goal will set you up for success.
R Set up rewards for small changes you make on the road to accomplishing your larger goals. Setting external motivators can be incredibly helpful when we are first trying to make changes.
T Keep track of your progress. This can serve as a visual reminder that you are successful.
S Get support! Tell other people about your goals or find someone to do it with you.
We become frustrated when the changes we want to make are more difficult to accomplish than we had anticipated. We overload ourselves with so many changes or unrealistic goals that we become discouraged. Recognize that there will be bumps in the road. Research shows that it can take as long as two months to make new changes a habit. Give yourself time and be patient!
New Year’s Resolutions and the Absent but Implicit
For Real Change This Year, Skip the Resolutions and Look to Your Life Goals
New Year’s Resolutions – Why They Don’t Work; And Commitments – How They Can
© Copyright 2011 by By Michelle Lewis, therapist in Salt Lake City, Utah. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.