Setting and Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year where many people are reflecting on the year that has passed and the year that is to come. They look back and analyze successes and failures, and also try to push themselves forward by setting goals. But how beneficial are these New Year’s resolutions?

Setting beneficial goals

Often, people create their resolutions based on their habits – i.e. exercise, eating, social media, smoking, drinking, etc. Whether they want to do more or less of these things isn’t the challenge, but breaking a pattern of a daily habit. So how can you set yourself to have success here? Understanding your decision making; this can either help or hinder your goals.

What is valuable is to first understand what has prevented you in the past from making these changes – what beliefs you have held that stop behavior change. For example: “I want to exercise more” followed by “a gym membership is too expensive,” “There’s no time between work and family.” These are thoughts that allow it to be okay to continue to not exercise, it creates an illusion of valid excuses. Now, of course these things do make it more challenging to exercise – but not impossible.

Finding the right motivation

This is where the importance of having a strong motivator comes in. Maybe you have decided you need to exercise more because your last doctor’s visit didn’t go so well, or you’re finding it harder to find energy for things you enjoy. Changing the thoughts that come after “I want to exercise more” will help with the follow through of these goals. For example, “I don’t have to pay to exercise. I can go for a run or do at-home exercises,” and “I want to be healthier for my family.”

The focus here is to identify the goal and the motivation. This is the foundation of change. You can be successful with your New Year’s resolutions if your incentive is strong enough. If the reason is simply “it’s a new year” that likely won’t be enough – you’ll need to dig a bit deeper than that because likely that strong motivator is just under the surface.

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