How a Therapist Keeps New Year Resolutions ?
As human beings, our brains are made to like to see things with a clear beginning and a clear end, so what better time to create a new, positive habit than at the start of the New Year? By the end of January, however, we often have given up or even forgotten about handling money better, losing weight, stopping the cigarettes or organizing more quality time with the family.
But it’s worth the try! A Journal of Clinical Psychology article concluded that people who set New Year resolutions are ten times likelier to actually make the change than those who don’t.
In my work, I help people realize their goals, every day. My experience – with others, and for myself – has shown that the following makes the difference between wishing and doing.
1. Be very specific.
Not “I will lose weight” but “I will lose ten kilos by my birthday”. Vague goals get vague results.
2. Consider how realistic the goal is.
Ask yourself, on a scale of 0 to 10, how confident are you that you will do what you plan? If you are less than 9 out of 10, better rethink the goal. In other words, if saving a hundred euros a month seems impossible, how about fifty euros a month instead?
3. Think over what the obstacles are.
Is your boss really going to let you leave your work by six every day just because you have made up your mind to have more time with your family? If you reorganize your responsibilities or negotiate a change in your work hours, would you be less likely to have a problem getting hope to see more of your kids?
4. Think in terms of baby steps.
Aim to delay your first cigarette by a little bit more each day, for example, or start sports with only adding a five-minute walk a day to work up to full running gradually, which will make the challenge more manageable.
5. Focus on just one goal.
Getting over-ambitious means you run the risk of not achieving any of your objectives.
6. Keep a progress chart.
As said above, the brain loves to complete things. Studies have shown that keeping a progress chart helps keep us on track, because we can’t stand the blank spots we don’t check in the chart, and a full row of checks makes us feel great and motivated.
7. If it doesn’t work, figure out what would and keep going.
I always tell my clients that unachieved goals are not a failure, but a fabulous occasion to learn what they need to put in place to achieve their objectives. If they don’t remember to do the task, would programmed notifications on their phone help? If their motivation is flagging, would a long list of the benefits to the new behavior help, posted on the bathroom mirror for daily reading? If a lack of accountability is the problem, would texting a designated friend each time the task is done be helpful? Don’t renounce, keep going!
Give yourself a small prize for each step along the way – you deserve it!