As we bid adieu to 2022 and welcome 2023, many of us take part in the longstanding tradition of resolving to “X, Y or Z” with the start of the new year. Some of us choose words, or themes, to live by in the new year, like “peace,” or “self-love.” Whether you’re writing out or mentally noting 1, 3 or 5 goals, or carefully selecting a theme for the year, new year’s resolutions give a sort of “blank slate” feel to the beginning of a fresh set of 365 days.
Unfortunately, out of those of us who actually make new year’s resolutions, 23% quit in the first week, and 64% quit after the first month. 43% of people don’t even expect to last past February, and only 9% of resolutioners actually achieve success.
The top reason for quitting? Losing motivation. The few weeks following the November/December holiday line up can feel like a necessary time to rest and recover from all the indulging and stress of holiday shopping, gift giving and hosting or visiting family. And for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be an especially difficult time. Motivation may not exactly be abundant in those first couple weeks of the new year.
When it comes to setting goals–whether it be in our personal, professional or love lives–there are important things to consider if we want to achieve success. Before setting any goal, reflect and get brutally honest with yourself about how ready you are to fully commit to it. Motivation isn’t always a guarantee. Understanding that and being ready to invoke discipline when motivation is lacking can be the difference between achieving your goals and falling short.
However setting goals, or resolutions, doesn’t have to be so complicated. A lot of us can get carried away setting broad, immeasurable, untimely, irrelevant or unachievable goals. As clinicians, when we set goals for clients for example, we use SMART goals. And this can translate seamlessly to any goal.
With all of that in mind, here are some tips to setting resolutions for 2023 that’ll make it past January. 😉
1. Start Small.
We all have ideas of where we want to be in 6 months, a year, 5 years, even 10 years. Setting big, long term goals is great. However, sometimes those long term goals can be so big that they become overwhelming and intimidating. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have them, but rather that the key is in identifying the other, smaller steps required to get there. Have the 5 year plan. But then identify the shorter, 6-8 week (even 1-week) goals necessary to get there and focus on those. Eventually–and with consistency–you’ll end up at your destination.
Starting small not only makes it easier to check more things off of a list, it also makes success more likely because it fosters encouragement. Frequently checking smaller things off a list makes us feel productive, and productivity encourages us to keep the momentum going. Thus, the culmination of smaller steps toward a larger goal is 1- easier to digest, so to speak, and 2- a road that’s probably easier to travel. Think of smaller goals as a road map toward the big goal.
2. Be Resilient.
Slip ups, and “falling off the bandwagon”– they’re part of the journey. Rather than trying to avoid them, try instead to get really great at getting back on track if/when you miss a day or two, or ten. When we’re trying to implement new habits or lifestyles, making them feel more like chores creates dread and resentment, making it more likely that we’ll quit eventually. Life happens, and there will be times when some priorities will need to take a back seat to others. Success isn’t always so black and white, and actually probably lives more in the gray.
So you missed a week of workouts. Rather than giving up all together, re-frame your thinking from “I missed a week of workouts, I’m a failure,” to “I missed a week of workouts. No biggie. I can pick back up where I left off tomorrow.” There’s a time and a place for all or nothing thinking, but I promise you it’s not in goal setting or lifestyle changes. Even those who are successful in reaching their goals likely experience 14 slip ups within a 2 year period. FOURTEEN. That’s one slip up every other month, on average. So instead of beating yourself up when you fall short, or don’t meet a deadline, or miss a workout… embrace the setback and use it as fuel to hit the ground running again tomorrow.
3. Be Accountable.
Whatever the nature of your goals or resolutions are, committing to yourself is half (or rather, 25%) the battle. Consistency and accountability can be difficult to navigate, particularly for those whose closest friends and family members aren’t exactly on board or supportive of their commitment to said goal. This can be the end all or the be all. Though it can be discouraging to feel like our partners or family members aren’t quite as invested in our success as we are, we also can’t expect everyone around us to have the same goals and/or commitment to achieving those goals. Rather than letting a lack of support bog you down, use it as an opportunity to create and nurture new relationships that will help keep you accountable. Committing to someone–or something (social media, maybe?)–that you will do something makes it 65% more likely that you’ll achieve success. And having a specific accountability partner makes success 95% more likely.
(By the way, this is why goal setting is something I do with every therapy client–in many ways, I am the mental health accountability buddy).
So good luck crushing your goals this year…and “failing” a little bit…but getting back on track!
Have other ideas for how to meet your resolutions? Let us know below!