How To Make a New Year’s Resolution (That You’ll Actually Keep)

| Ashley Davis LMFT

I’ve always liked the idea of New Year’s resolutions, in theory. Taking time to re-examine your goals and how you want to evolve as a person is a great thing to do any time of year and is especially powerful following the season of giving. However, in practice, New Year’s resolutions hardly ever turn out as we intend them to. Typically that’s because, despite our best efforts, we don’t always really take the time needed to sit with ourselves and figure out not only what we want but how to get there. Below I’ve included some ideas to help make your New Year’s resolutions a little bit easier to make and keep.

Do What You Want Not What You Feel Like You Should

So many times New Year’s resolutions are doomed before they’re even started because people tend to pick things that think they should do rather than what they really want to do.  Think you ought to lose ten pounds but don’t really want to diet or hit the gym?  That’s probably a “should do” not a “want to do.”  Make sure whatever you decide to pursue it’s something that’s really meaningful and important to you, otherwise you won’t be as committed to it as you’d probably like to be.

Break Down Bigger Resolutions into Smaller Goals

Resolutions tend to be very generalized in nature, so getting more specific can help you figure out how to tackle the monumental task you’ve set for yourself. Want to learn how to play guitar? Break down what you need to do to get there. For example, start out your goal of learning guitar by stating that by the end of week one of the new year you will have decided whether to be self taught or whether you’d like to find an instructor. By the end of week two set up a task that you will have either found a reliable learning module online or found a list of instructors you can call for more information dependent on your choice in week one. Keep breaking down your long term goal by day, week, or month until you achieve what you’ve set up for yourself.

Don’t Let Slip Ups Throw You Off

Many times resolutions fail because you slip up once and throw in the towel. Life gets in the way of the best laid plans, so don’t expect that the goals you set for yourself will always be followed consistently. If you miss a week at the gym, no big deal, start back up again next week. If your resolution was to not yell at your kids, and you yell at them after a long day at work, do better tomorrow. Expect that there will be mistakes, and keep pressing forward anyway.

Utilize All Resources Available to You

Don’t think that your goal is yours to achieve all on your own. Use everything at your disposal to get where you want to be. There are several free or paid apps in the App Store that can help you plan a daily meditation (Headspace and Calm are two great ones), help you learn a new language, help you meal plan, etc. Professionals are available to help you achieve nearly any goal you can set for yourself be it a tutor, a career coach, a personal trainer, or a therapist. Friends and family can hold you accountable if you feel that you need extra motivation on days when you’re “just not feeling it”. The more resources you use, the more successful you’ll be.

At the end of the day, resolutions are not meant to make a “new” you, rather an improved you.  Make sure whatever you end up doing, you’ll benefit from it.  Personal growth is always helpful for positive mental health, so keep at those resolutions and good luck!

Today's the day to make a change.