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27 Dec

How Setting a Kinder New Year’s Resolution May Increase Your Chances of Success

Former Staff Therapist Sarah Bauer, MS, MFT is a couple and family therapist. Specializing in domestic violence, trauma, grief and loss, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, Sarah uses a systemic approach to assist clients in reaching their goals.

 

New Year’s is a time to remember the last year’s events and choices, and to consider the coming year’s promise of new. In that spirit, some people will make New Year’s resolutions. They commit to making positive changes in their lives, whether these changes are reasonable or not.

Although people do want to make changes, they often experience what researcher Peter Herman calls “false hope syndrome.” This means that their resolution is not aligned with the individual’s self-image, or internal view of themselves. This leads people to set unrealistic expectations and ultimately fail. When an individual fails to achieve their New Year’s Resolutions, their self-esteem may suffer significantly.

To help prevent this, I encourage my clients and readers to:

 

  • Stick with one New Year’s resolution.

More than one goal can appear overwhelming as well as unobtainable. Depending on the timeline of your goal, it may be better to stick with one to start out with and then add new goals throughout the year. This will help prevent you from becoming discouraged in the beginning.

 

  • Set realistic, attainable New Year’s resolutions.

A goal to lose 100 pounds in a month is unattainable, but to lose five pounds in ten weeks is. Be realistic about what is realistic for YOU. Be kind to yourself, you don’t need to compare yourself or your progress to other people’s.

 

  • Don’t try to change everything about yourself all at once.

This can set you up for failure as changing your behavior can be super challenging. Celebrate the small victories of change, however that may look for you. You will find that once you’ve successfully implemented one or several smaller changes, you’ll have the confidence and foundation of habit to keep making more changes.

 

  • Don’t frame your New Year’s resolutions in absolute terms.

While we’re told to set “specific” goals, this can often backfire. I find that it is more forgiving to say “I am going to work on x, y, and z,” than, “I am going to do x, y, and z.” By indicating that a person will do, as opposed to will try, they may set themselves up for failure when that “will do” does not play out to their expectations. We know that words are powerful so the way that we talk about our resolutions can have an impact on their success.

 

  • Ask someone to hold you accountable for your New Year’s resolution.

By enlisting someone you trust or joining a support system, you have a higher chance of achieving your resolution. Having someone cheering on your victories and sympathizing with your struggles may make a world of difference. It may also help to buddy up with someone who’s striving for the same goal.

 

  • Remember that it’s okay if you do not complete your resolution.

I feel it is really important to say this again: it is okay if you do not complete your goal. The point of the resolution is to make an effort. If you tried hard to work towards your goals, but did not complete them, this is okay. Praise yourself for trying to complete these goals and work on recognizing why the goal did not succeed and what you can do for next year.

 

Former Staff Therapist Sarah Bauer, MS, MFT is a couple and family therapist. Specializing in domestic violence, trauma, grief and loss, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, Sarah uses a systemic approach to assist clients in reaching their goals.

Interested in therapy Request an appointment today.

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