The time honored tradition of counting down and celebrating the arrival of a new year is filled with excitement and wonderment of what the next 365 days may bring. A cornerstone of the American tradition of celebrating the New Year is making New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions are typically centered around creating a better version of self in a meaningful way. What a marvelous way to enter a new year, with fresh eyes, renewed spirit and with goals to be achieved. However, more often than not after a month or so, old habits resurface and that amazing vigor that new year started with begins to fade—being replaced by responsibility, obligation and the familiar. Goals are abandoned by the enthusiastic, naïve individual who will surely repeat the same tradition next year. Consider New Year’s 2019 as a challenge set to not replicate the errors of seasons past and for the resolutions set for 2020 to be seized all year thorough. As a mental health therapist, I am going to let you in on some trade secrets I use when working with clients to not only set goals but to also reach and maintain those goals.
Start with Self-reflection
It is easy to pick goals that society deem worthy and take that on as a reflection of what your values are. By spending the time to ask yourself probing questions about what you really want to see more of in your life or what are things are holding you back from living your best life, you will discover what truly matters enough to you to invest the energy into changing. Begin this process by writing in a journal to explore your thoughts. Allow the things that resonate with you the deepest to be your guide.
Minimize to Maximize
When getting geared up for making self-improvements we often go overboard. We come up with 10 goals that are multistep processes and are disappointed when we fall short of the resolution. Restrict yourself to 3 goals maximum but if one is a lofty goal, just start with one. Narrowing your focus will allow you to really hone in on the steps needed to achieve this goal and the maintenance required to make it a lifestyle change.
Therapists anchor treatment plans for client success with the SMART acronym. Be specific about what exact goal you are setting. For instance, I want to get healthy is not a specific goal but I want to eat carb free diet 3 days a week is specific. Set measurable goals that are quantifiable and will demonstrate evidence of your success. Ensure your goal is attainable. It’s important that your goal challenge your comfort zone and elevate you to the next level but setting a goal that is not attainable will just crush your motivation. Relevant goals are goals that are aligned with your values and what matters to you at the core of who you are. These are the types of goals that are achieved and maintained because you are mentally ready to make that change in your life. Finally, timely goals will hold you accountable that you are taking the incremental steps required to actualize the resolution in full by setting deadlines.
Solidify your Vision
Once you have your resolutions set, make an honest commitment to them by creating a vision board that you hang in a place you will see daily. There are many methods for making a vision board and no one way is correct, only the way that feels most organic to you. Make it fun and even plan a vision board party with a few close friends to be each other’s accountability partners in this New Year towards your goals.
Let the excitement of the New Year inspire you to reflect on who you are, who you want to be and
how the two align. Be your best self by setting meaningful resolutions that you will achieve. Keeping in mind that not all of the resolutions that you set have to be solely focused on you. Explore what you can do for others, the environment, as well as the community you are apart of locally and globally. All of which in turn will elevate your self-worth, which a great compliment to the resolutions centered on you and elevating your self-care.
Glynita Bell, MSSW, LCSW, ABD