Let’s talk New Year Resolutions.
For many, the start of a New Year brings an almost overwhelming desire to be better, do more, and focus on what matters most in our lives. After all, the new year acts as a kind of psychological signal for a fresh start; a time for renewed optimism and changing those things that stand in our way of personal progress.
The Value of Resolutions
As a result, we make resolutions, creating a roadmap for making important changes in our personal and professional lives.
The New Year is an opportunity to wipe the slate clean, forgive yourself for past decisions, and tackle what needs to change. Many mental health experts feel that resolutions provide:
- A feeling of renewal and hope
- A sense of purpose and direction
- An opportunity to regain control of our lives
In a nutshell, it is a chance to take action. To be proactive.
The Risk in Resolutions
The flip side of the coin is that we are human, and despite our best intentions, resolutions frequently go unmet. Too often, we unintentionally set ourselves up for failure with unrealistic goals and impossible expectations.
Our own optimism and enthusiasm can actually be counterproductive, resulting in a sense of failure and additional frustration. Our January excitement can too easily become our February despair.
Be Kind to Yourself
So, what to do in 2021? The best advice seems to be to pretty simple: don’t shy away from resolutions, just consider being a little easier on yourself and keep them reasonable.
Dr. Gail Saltz, associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine and host of the “Personology” podcast from iHeartRadio, recently shared her advice in a Chicago Tribune article.
“Drastic behavioral change takes a lot of effort and setting yourself up to feel failed is not a good solution in this year,” says Saltz. “Pick something bite-sized. If you accomplish it, you’ll feel good, and if you want to do more after that, no one’s stopping you.”
The Bottom Line
Making New Year Resolutions can be an uplifting, restorative exercise. By being realistic and reasonable in your goals, they can continue to be a positive motivator throughout the year ahead.