New Year, New You?

Well, it’s that time again. The time when the calendar flips over, and a new year begins. Popular culture tells us this is the time to “resolve” to change something about ourselves or our lives. But is this realistic? Or even a good idea?

First of all, if there is a behavior that you’re hoping to change, the new year is as good as any. It’s not any better or any worse than any other time that you feel as if you’re ready to commit to a goal. So if now is the time, go for it! However, if now is NOT the time, please, please do not beat yourself up about this. One thing is for sure, making yourself feel bad about something only makes you feel worse than whatever that “something” is that you think you are supposed to change.

Second, the word “resolution” has a pass/fail connotation to it. Thus, one slip up or mistake is likely to de-rail the whole experience. Rather than “resolving” to do something, think about these changes as “intentions” or “options.” That way, if and when you are not perfect, you can return to the idea of intention and start again.

Third, make sure the goals you set are specific and attainable. For example, if you want to “lose weight,” start with a specific goal like “lose 1 pound per week.” Do some research, find out what is possible for you and your life, and set goals that push you a little but not so much that giving up is easy. A good rule is to increase a behavior by 20%. So if you go to the gym for 100 minutes per week, you would want to shoot for 120 until that feels easy and routine and then increase to 142 minutes, etc.

If you’re having a difficult time building motivation or developing smart goals, take a look at some of the SMART goal worksheets available online (like this one) or talk to a mental health professional.

Good luck to you all in your endeavors! I wish you all the best in the new year.