New Year’s Resolution Follow-Through: Loving Your Future Self

It’s that time of year. As the last days of 2010 are ticked off the calendar one by one, people are setting their sights and hopes on 2011. New year’s resolutions are popular among many, scoffed by a few, and notoriously hard to keep. Gym members complain of the “January rush”—the swarm of resolution-makers who exercise faithfully for the first few weeks of the year before tapering off and returning to their old ways. But while “exercise more and eat better” are the common clichés of New Year’s resolutions, the most popular goals are less physical and more personal. According to a survey of over 5,000 New Years resolution Tweets, the most popular resolution topics are “Personality improvements [and] philosophical outlook on life” (23%) and “Relationships (getting into a relationship, getting over an ex)” (9%).

Often, “outlook on life” resolutions center on incorporating more good thoughts into one’s daily mindset: being more positive, more proactive, more honest, more appreciative, more affectionate, etc. But for some, the goal is to minimize a negative mindset. Getting a handle on depression, anxiety, ADD, or other mental health situations is a common, and quite meaningful, resolution for the new year. Just as those whose goal is physical health will join a gym and establish an exercise routine, those whose goal is mental health will find a therapist, schedule appointments, and start incorporating mentally healthy patterns and behaviors into their daily routine.

Follow-through is the hard part. Experts recommend focusing on one or two resolutions (a manageable amount) and setting goals that are realistic and attainable, yet concrete enough to actually assess. The mindset you’re in is also incredibly influential. The slippery slope of abandoning resolutions begins with one or two short-term choices that usurp the long-term goal. Psychologically, this happens when we don’t feel connected to our future selves. If you are seeing a counselor or therapist, work with him or her to connect where you are now with where you’d like to be: even if you do accomplish change, you won’t turn into a stranger. Connecting the present and the future can not only help you achieve the long-term vision necessary to make those resolutions a reality, but it will help you make the small, short-term choices required to do so.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. 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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  • Linda Jacobs

    Linda Jacobs

    December 30th, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    I have not met too many people with a new year resolution related to mental health,but only physical health.This may show how little knowledge and awareness most people have about mental health. And it also shows how much importance mental health is given.

  • Lydia

    Lydia

    December 30th, 2010 at 4:46 PM

    Can’t wait to get started!

  • clive lloyd

    clive lloyd

    December 30th, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    i don’t quite believe in all this new year resolutions…they are too over-hyped…you don’t have to wait for a new year to start something good,do you?!

  • Daniel R

    Daniel R

    December 31st, 2010 at 3:25 AM

    The more you love your future self the harder you will work towards your new year resolutions and the easier it will seem to accomplish them :)

  • Selena

    Selena

    December 31st, 2010 at 5:52 AM

    Like so many others for me it is never making the resolution that is the hard part, but instead it is making it a part of my life for good that becomes the hard part.

    I have resolved to get in shape and lose weight for more years than I care to remember but always seem to fall off of that same wagon again and again, usually by the 2nd week of January or so.

    I think that what is going on is that I have made my resolutions and expectations too unrealistic. If I do not see the change in the mirror or in the way that my clothes fit within a few days or weeks then I give up.

    This year I hope to do better, be a better person, and come to love myself as I am. And then if the outer changes come too, then all the better. But if not I want to get to the point where I can be happy with myself no matter what is on the outside.

  • SnowLove

    SnowLove

    December 31st, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    I always try and make resolutions that will make my life better in the longer run rather than concentrating on short term benefits. Yes it may not materialize in the year that I resolved it actually but atleast it yields very high results :)

  • isabel k

    isabel k

    January 2nd, 2011 at 8:05 AM

    I see a lot of friends give up on their new year resolutions in a couple of weeks because they either make unrealistic resolutions or just lose all the fire after that time.
    As for me,I try and make small but effective resolutions throughout the year to avoid that kind of a failure.

  • Kenny

    Kenny

    January 2nd, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    My new year resolution is to try and reduce the stress in my life as much as possible and to even seek help if required to achieve the same…

  • Larry E

    Larry E

    January 3rd, 2011 at 2:48 AM

    The title of the post seems very apt-If you love your future self enough then surely you will put in the required effort and be able to achieve your future self and yourself become what you loved :)

  • Kev

    Kev

    January 3rd, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    It’s only Jan 3rd and already I have broken most of my resolutions. Need help!!!

  • natalie

    natalie

    January 3rd, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    I used to be very excited about new year resolutions in the past. but now all that’s gone. I dont even keep any new year resolutions anymore coz try don’t even work for me!

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