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Consider a Different Approach To New Year's Resolutions

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Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.

Helen Keller.

Some of us continue to set ourselves up, once again, by setting New Year’s resolutions, which we have been unsuccessful in keeping in previous years.

Some of us feel so discouraged about not being able to keep our New Year’s resolutions, or our intentions, that we abandon them totally, thus making ourselves feel even worse by not setting them at all. 

The truth is all of these goals or New Year’s resolutions are important to work toward and can produce potentially life-changing patterns. Yet, they may be the same ones that we set in previous years and have had trouble incorporating into our lives.

Same Goal, Different Year

Sometimes we approach the New Year with lofty expectations that this will be the year we succeed with a huge or almost impossible goal, or multiple goals. We set goals such as, “I’m going to…”

  • Lose 30 pounds this year.
  • Exercise every single day.
  • Stop smoking, drinking, or compulsive overeating.
  • Organize all my paperwork.
  • Give up sugar and salt.
  • Only eat healthy.
  • Stop shopping compulsively.
  • Make new friends.
  • Be less negative.
  • Cultivate my spirituality.
  • Save more money.
  • Argue less with my partner.
  • Spend more time with my children.
  • Get a better job.

And we are going to achieve one or more of these goals…immediately. 

It is only the second week into the year and here at Nassau Guidance & Counseling we are already hearing about the guilt our couples and psychotherapy clients are experiencing over their goals.

Depression and anxiety around this has already begun setting in and for some a sense of hopelessness has developed. We have noticed that people are beating themselves up and are riddled with guilt because they have broken their New Year’s resolutions “already.”

So what do we do about this? 

Do we not set New Year’s resolutions for ourselves and determine goals that we want to accomplish? Is avoiding resolutions and goals the answer to not feeling depressed, anxious, guilty, or angry with ourselves? Or do we need to approach this differently? 

Perhaps if we set more realistic goals, such as:

  • Focusing on losing 10 pounds instead of 30, or ...
  • Eating healthier as opposed to total diet restrictions, we might have a better chance at success.
  • Even small changes, one behavior at a time, and not focusing on everything we want to improve in our life at once, can provide us with a taste of success to help us meet our goals.
  • Set an Intention. There tends to be an all-or-nothing approach or thought process that often accompanies setting these resolutions that many of us have, which really sets us up emotionally. I have always found that the phrase “New Year’s Resolutions” has a rigid feel to it, where instead setting an intention has a softer, gentler, more flexible feel. 

Discover more tips on working toward your goals with a positive mindset and without feeling guilty in my complete article

My wish for you today is that you are able to focus on the wonderful things you have accomplished and maintain a positive perspective of what the New Year has to offer.

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