If you have the right mindset and are willing to put in some effort, New Year’s resolutions can be more than a fleeting trend.
The process of setting a goal and working towards it is an effective method for becoming more like the person that you would like to be. And keep in mind that resolutions can be made any time of year. If you’ve already broken your New Year’s resolutions, or you skipped making one this year, don’t give up.
When making your resolutions, Do:
- Be Reflective: Before you can start setting goals for your future, you need to be aware of your past. Use the New Year as a time to pause and look back on how the past year went. Ground your memories and reflections in some form of physical expression: writing, drawing, painting, collage, conversation, etc. Notice both your successes and achievements, and reflect on how you can continue the good and change the bad.
- Be Personal: Resolutions can be more than the typical “working out and losing weight.” Tailor your goals to where you are at in life right now, and consider all perspectives of your current status. Health is an essential component of substance abuse recovery and should always be a priority. Try to set health goals that will affect multiple parts of your life—your body, your spirit, your emotions, your mind. This holistic approach will help to keep you intrinsically motivated so that your resolution’s success will not be reliant upon one factor (e.g., your weight).
- Be Mindful: When making a resolution, be as mindful of the goal’s intentions as you are of the goal itself. If you set a health goal of going to the gym three times a week, your intentions could cover your physical body’s well-being (working out), the upkeep of your emotional health (enjoying the time to yourself), and the gaining of social confidence (making new friends at the gym). When a goal has a variety of intentions and rewards, you will feel more motivated to achieve it.
- Be Holistic: Just as multiple intentions can strengthen one goal, you can set multiple goals that reflect the different parts of your life. Consider adding to your health resolution some goals that focus on the other parts of you are and who you want to be. For example, set a goal to write in a journal everyday (to work on your self-awareness), to try out a new restaurant every month (to work on broadening your comfort zone and being comfortable with change), to go to work or school without makeup once a week (to work on loving your natural self, not letting others’ opinions or expectations define your actions, and getting some extra sleep in the morning!), etc.
- Be Realistic: New Year’s Resolutions often get a bad rep because of how difficult it is to keep them for a whole year. The key to setting successful goals is to keep them realistic. While it is important to set high-reaching goals that will motivate you to improve and push yourself outside of your comfort zone, they still need to be realistic enough to be achieved. If the goal is too lofty, it can become too difficult to remain optimistic and to have faith in your ability to reach the destination.
- Be Gracious: While you are working towards your realistic goals, remember to be gracious to yourself. It is good to hold yourself accountable, but we are all human: we all make mistakes. If you beat yourself up when you break your resolution, you will never be motivated to try it again. Forming habits of being gracious to yourself, learning from your mistakes, and then moving on will be greatly beneficial to achieving your New Year’s Resolution and will also help you develop patterns in your life so that you can keep these new behaviors even after this year has passed.
- Be Accountable: Share the goals that you make with people who you can be vulnerable with, so that you can trust them to call you out if you start to slack off and to encourage you if you start to lose motivation. You can use this as an opportunity to hold them accountable to their goals, which can also be an opportunity to strengthen your relationship.
When making your resolutions, Don’t:
- Be Skeptical: Maybe the thought of making a resolution sounds cliche, impossible, or pointless to you, but give it a chance! Try following the listed suggestions and set just one goal. The only possible harm that could come from it would be that you do not follow through with the resolution, but that would not be any different than if you had never tried, and the possible benefits could be life-changing!