By: Mara Saumell, LCSW, Director of Mental Health Clinics, The Guidance Center of Westchester
2013. The beginning of a new year. Hope for good things: health, prosperity, love. The options seem unlimited and many of us feel motivated to do everything possible to start the New Year right. This includes making New Year’s resolutions, our own little plan to do things differently from what we did in the past.
The problem with resolutions, though, is that they can be a bit of a double-edged sword, motivating and intimidating all at the same time. By their very definition, resolutions are “the state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.” For some people, “firm determination” is a positive thing. It is a way of gaining control over your life, or at least a few aspects of it. It can result in a feeling of accomplishment.
For others, however, it is a source of stress to “resolve to do something.” What if you can’t follow through or what if you lose interest in the resolution? Do you feel badly about yourself? Do you feel that you’ve failed? Then, hope and optimism turn to stress and anxiety. The very thing that was supposed to start the year off on a positive note has done just the opposite.
So, how can you be more successful in starting the New Year off in a positive way and in keeping your resolutions? Here are a few tips for successful resolutions from Psych Central:
- Have a strong initial commitment to make a change.
- Have coping strategies to deal with problems that will come up.
- Keep track of your progress. The more monitoring you do and feedback you get, the better you will do.
Ingredients for setting yourself up for resolution failure include:
- Not thinking about making resolutions until the last minute.
- Reacting on New Year’s Eve and making your resolutions based on what’s bothering you or is on your mind at that time.
- Framing your resolutions as absolutes by saying, “I will never do X again.”