A New Year: Tips for Keeping Realistic Resolutions
Writer and Photographer / Julie Yates
For many people, ringing in a new year is the perfect time to assess the past and consider what goals they would like to achieve in the future. Unfortunately, often the enthusiastic promises people make to themselves for change seem to fizzle out in a matter of weeks. Instead of having a sense of pride for accomplishing a goal, individuals feel a tinge of guilt when reminded of their abandoned objectives.
So how can someone ensure they will be successful in achieving a New Year’s resolution? The key, according to two Greenwood area licensed mental health counselors, is to choose the goal wisely and map out a plan to accomplish it.
Choose a Realistic Resolution
“New Year’s resolutions are an opportunity to perform personal reflection and set realistic goals to improve in areas we need to grow,” stated Brad Dobson of Southside Pastoral Counseling located at 48 N. Emerson Ave. “However,” he elaborated, “goals need to be small, flexible and important to you personally. An important factor is your level of confidence. You set yourself up for failure if you are not confident.”
Janet Storm, who maintains a private practice at 1602 W. Smith Valley Rd., echoes those thoughts. “Too many people make high and mighty goals which they really know are farfetched.” To make a goal that has a chance to be successful, Storm says, “It cannot be something to please someone else. It has to have real meaning for you because when that other person makes you mad, the goal will be given up. Also, goals have to be broken down into steps because you have to feel you will actually be able to do it.”
Map Out a Plan
After choosing a realistic and reasonable goal, a plan must be put into effect. One strategy used by many people is a visual reminder such as a chart to map their progress or even sticky notes with encouraging words printed on them. Another helpful trick is pairing the new behavior with one that is already a habit. For example, someone might place tools needed for both behaviors right next to each other, such as dental floss taped on to the toothpaste tube.
It also helps to vocalize the goal to others; this serves to create a commitment to it and may even yield a partner for mutual encouragement. Any scheme should involve removing an item that is to be given up. It is hard to not eat salted caramel ice cream if it is sitting in the freezer!
Finally, if a setback occurs, don’t give up entirely. Remember, January is not the only time a person can set personal goals. Spring and the coming of warmer weather are also times of new beginnings.
If all else fails, look back on what has been accomplished and be grateful. Dobson sums it up by voicing, “Practicing gratitude will pay dividends in relationships professionally, romantically and in one’s self-esteem. These are far greater benefits than just a goal of losing 10 pounds.”