What Makes Your New Year’s Resolution Different This Year?

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.
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!

Related Articles:

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.

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  • Robby

    Robby

    December 26th, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    I have never given much thought to the fact that most of us do set ourselves up to fail because we are such gluttons in the weeks and month or so leading up to that all or nothinjg attitude that we try to adopt at the spur of the moment. maybe we would all have an easier time adhering to our resolutions if we first made them something that we know we can accomplish and if we kind of ease ourselves in to these new behaviors. I know that when I have tried this whole get healthy kick before, I did like everyone else does. I tried to change all of my behaviors at once, and 50 pounds maybe more heavier I see clearly now that this is not going to work for me. So now I am going to go ahead and try changing my eating habits for a few weeks and then add some exercise to the routine. I mean this can’t hurt to at least try something a little different, and hopefully something that I can find a little more success with over the long term

  • Mary andrews

    Mary andrews

    December 27th, 2011 at 5:32 AM

    Nothing really is going to make them any different because too many people go into them for the wrong reasons. They think that this one resolution is going to make their life perfect, but in the real world most of us lose sight of our focus after just a few weeks or maybe just days. We have to go about this a little more differently if we expect to have any success. We have to make this a total life change, no matter what we have resolved to do. It can’t be so narrow to only be classified as a new years resolution. It has to be about making a life of positive change.

  • ronald

    ronald

    December 27th, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    trust me on SUPPORT.I had a tough time trying to jog every morning.That was until a neighbor came along and now we jog together every morning.We encourage each other and never let the other slack when it comes to jogging.Its something I had tried without success before so really Support does help.

  • Chapman

    Chapman

    December 27th, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    for me it has to be all about realizing that the journey that i wish to take is not one that i can do alone that i need care and support and a shoulder to cry on evry now and then that i can’t be too proud to ask for help nor should i try to hide my feelings and that i am strong enough and good enough to see this journey thru to the end

  • Joaquin Black

    Joaquin Black

    December 27th, 2011 at 11:46 PM

    Mine is going to be different in that I’m not even going to bother making one. Like all traditions we forget about it the next day as soon as it’s over. We should just forget about the whole thing and not wait until the start of the year to finally do something.

  • U.G.U.

    U.G.U.

    December 29th, 2011 at 4:35 AM

    @Joaquin Black- I agree with the last part. We should be doing the things we need to do anyway without having to rely on the turn of a year to do it and promptly forget about the whole thing as you put it. I don’t know who started the idea of New Year resolutions either but it is quite silly. I decided to lose weight in August and lose weight I did. Why wait?

  • Barney Walters

    Barney Walters

    December 29th, 2011 at 4:46 AM

    Making a reasonable goal is the best way to do it by far. You can get to most goals in time but if you say “Lose 10lbs” and lose 10lbs, you think “That wasn’t so hard, let’s get up to 20”, then it’s all good from there. Be realistic.

  • Madelyn Irwin

    Madelyn Irwin

    December 29th, 2011 at 4:53 AM

    I certainly hope those rewards don’t involve going out for Indian food for every 5 pounds you lose. I had a friend who did exactly that and he wondered why he wasn’t keeping the weight off. I wanted to smack him!

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