As 2018 draws to a close, many of us are beginning to think about what the New Year will have in store for us. The New Year represents a time of new beginnings, and it is therefore considered to be the perfect time to create resolutions so as to drive positive change in our lives. While New Year’s Resolutions, if done correctly, can help steer us into a more positive direction, they can also lead to feelings of disappointment, higher stress levels, and a sense of failure if we do not succeed in meeting our goals. In fact, according to U.S. News, about 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February. This often happens because our goals are too overwhelming and seem unattainable or because we are unprepared for the discomfort that often accompanies change.
Instead of pressurizing yourself to completely remodel your life in the New Year, think of New Year’s Resolutions as a way to reflect on your life in the past year and brainstorm some modifications you may need to make to help move you into the direction of your goals. According to the American Psychological Association, the key is to start small and keep the goals realistic. For instance, if you’d like to be more physically active, think of how you can elevate your physical health from its present state. For one person, this might mean starting to walk for 30 minutes a day at least 3 to 4 times a week, whereas, for another person, it might mean spending an hour at the gym every second day of the week.
It is also helpful to focus on changing one habit or part of your life at a time, according to the APA. Concentrating on just one change at a time can protect you from that crushing feeling of overwhelm and greatly improve your chances of actually accomplishing your resolutions. Finally, it is important to remember that change often begets discomfort and resistance. Anything outside of our comfort zone is inevitably uncomfortable; therefore, know that this is normal and that you will need to accept a certain amount of hardship and sometimes, even some failures, in order to achieve what you ultimately aspire for.
So, in these culminating days of the year, spend some time thinking about how you would like your life to look in the coming years and what steps you can take in the New Year to help transform that dream into reality.
“Making Your New Year’s Resolution Stick” (2010). Retrieved from www.apa.org
“Why 80 Percent of New Year’s Resolutions Fail (2015). Retrieved from www.health.usnews.com