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Rethinking New Year's Resolutions

It’s that time of year again…Some people love setting resolutions. Some stick to them, and some will last a couple days, months, minutes…etc. New year, new me, Right? This is just a friendly reminder from a therapist that changes can happen anytime. The choice is always there for YOU to make. If the first day of the new year is the day you set, do it! Read on more about how to make change more effective and motivating!

I can say I have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions. I believe in making commitments to change at any time of the year. However, the treatment planning goal maker in me feels that most New Year’s resolutions are a bit lofty which leads to feelings of “failure” and the tendency to just give up. There’s no right or wrong time to decide to make a change, and the first step is picking when you will begin. If the new year is the date you want, go for it! A suggestion I would offer is to view the resolution as a goal, and depending on what that goal is possibly breaking it down to smaller goals. A helpful acronym to remember is “SMART” goals:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).

  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).

  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).

  • Realistic (reasonable, relevant and resourced, results-based).

  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

I’ll use one of the most common resolutions that I’ve heard quite often: “I want to work out 5 days a week and lose weight.” coming from someone who currently does not work out at all. This is a goal that can use a little bit of fine tuning in my opinion. To make this goal a bit more “SMART”, I would suggest a more reasonable time commitment to start. How about, “I will do 20-30 minutes of a cardiovascular exercise 2 times a week for a month.” This goal is definitely more specific, measurable, achievable, and time limited. It’s also still aligned with that big goal of working out 5 times a week to lose weight. The key take away here is to remember it’s ok to have multiple resolutions/goals that build towards the ultimate goal. You’re actually way more likely to achieve the ultimate goal when you break it down.

I do want to encourage everyone reading this to make even a little commitment to yourself this new year. Below are a few ideas to get you thinking. Please share in the comments any resolutions, goals, commitments that you’re pondering as we look at 2024!

  1. Remember the basics! Think about basic self-care: Sleep? Hygiene? Nutrition? Exercise? Appearance?

  2. Boundaries. Oh how I love talking about boundaries with my clients! I love helping others set and maintain healthy boundaries, and I am grateful to see how life changing they can be. It is hard work though! I know I haven’t mastered to art of boundary setting in all areas of my life. Remind yourself it’s ok to just say “No.” One of my favorite “therapistisms” in my repertoire is “No is a complete sentence.”

  3. Surround yourself with positive people. You don’t owe anyone your presence. Choose who to spend your time with. This goes along with boundaries, but I wanted to make it separate because sometimes a boundary isn’t the answer. Sometimes you need to decide whether a person is a positive aspect of your life or a negative ache. You can choose what’s feeding your physical and mental energy and choose to let go of what’s draining and depleting you.

  4. Take a break. Even if it’s setting aside  a few minutes a day to do something for yourself. Make the active decision to stretch for 10 minutes a day, deep breath for 5 minutes, step outside a gaze at the sky, or just close your eyes. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but remember we all need a recharge!

The overall theme here is to care for yourself! I challenge you all to make a commitment to yourself in this new year. Please share your thoughts in the comments, and let me know any topics you’d like me write about! I wish you all the best in this coming new year and always!

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