With the new year right around the corner, many people are thinking about their resolutions. But following through on those resolutions is where the real challenge lies.
Behavioral health experts say that setting and failing at those goals can be even more damaging than not making the goals, but there are a few ways to make those goals more attainable.
First, you need to ask yourself if the resolution aligns with your values. Your energy and time is finite, notes Dr. Kristen Carpenter, director of women’s behavioral health at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. If you’re making resolutions that are not in line with your values, reevaluate your list and replace them with ones that are more cohesive with your overall goals. If not, Dr. Carpenter says, you are setting yourself up to fail.
Next, consider a range of resolutions that reflect different areas of your life. Rather than focusing all your resolutions on a career, or a relationship, or a single life goal, Carpenter says a better approach is creating resolutions that will enhance multiple areas of your life.
Think about if your resolutions are specific enough to be achieveable. “Lose weight” might sound pretty specific, but resolving instead to take the necessary steps toward achieving that goal can provide a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue – such as “drink at least five glasses of water a day,” “take the stairs every day” or “work out three times a week.”
Incorporating healthier habits into your lifestyle should be approached as something that will make you feel better and happier, rather than as something that’s more work than reward.
“Reduce stress” might be a goal, but try making the resolution about making that possible, such as resolving to get up 15 minutes earlier to avoid the morning rush, read at least five pages in your favorite book before bed to help your brain unwind, using a planner to schedule not only meetings and appointments but time for workouts and relaxation too.
“Get organized” can apply to all areas of your life. You can resolve to plan out your meals to reduce stress at the grocery store and at meal time, to eat healthier than grabbing last minute fast food, and to save money. Resolving to write things down and plan ahead can contribute to other goals like de-stressing and getting healthier.
Start with small changes, like walking instead of riding, swapping a piece of fruit for a sugary treat, or putting aside a small amount of each paycheck to boost your savings. Prioritize your goals and make them measurable, specific and attainable, and your New Year’s resolutions might last beyond the first week.