Have you ever made a New Years resolution only to give up before the end of January? If so, you’re not alone.

Resolutions often fail for a number of reasons:

  • Our resolutions are too vague (“I will exercise more” doesn’t exactly provide clear conditions for success)
  • Our resolutions are too ambitious (If you’re new to the gym, don’t expect to immediately switch to daily workouts)
  • Our goals aren’t personally meaningful (You may feel like you should get up earlier each morning, but do you really want that?)
  • We don’t set deadlines to take action (A whole year is a long time to procrastinate, and life often gets busy in the meantime!)

When making a New Years resolution that is more realistic (and sustainable), it’s important to keep these factors in mind. It might even be helpful to make a SMART goal:

S: Specific – “I will be more active” (bad) vs. “I will exercise at the gym” (good)

M: Measurable – “I will exercise more” (bad) vs. “I will exercise twice.” (good)

A: Action-Orientated – Make sure that the goal involves you actually doing a behaviour/action.

R: Realistic – Is the goal feasible, given your other responsibilities? Make sure to start small!

T: Time-defined – Assign a deadline to complete the goal (one week is a great timeframe!)

By making a SMART goal, you can create smaller goals that help you to accomplish your resolution in smaller steps. Breaking down your resolution into smaller goals is likely to feel less overwhelming and more realistic, leaving you less discouraged. If being more active is your goal, then it’s a lot easier to start by going to the gym once a week, rather than four or more days. Plus, completing multiple small goals can leave you feeling accomplished and motivated to keep trying. Taking on less at once allows us to become more comfortable with something new, allowing us to incorporate it into our typical routine more naturally.

In summary, make goals that are small, specific, measurable, and meaningful to you. Give yourself a deadline, and be mindful of your other responsibilities. Also, don’t forget to reward yourself for your efforts! Taking on a new challenge isn’t easy, and pampering yourself after completing a weekly goal is a great way to keep your motivation high for next week’s challenge.

Above all else, make sure that your goals matter to you. If you’re trying to better yourself with a New Years resolution, make sure that the change is something you want and not something you feel you should do. If our goals don’t matter to us, then we’re not likely to keep them for the long run.

Good luck, and Happy New Year!

Submitted by Brandon – Mental Health Practitioner

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