New Year, New You!!!

by | Dec 28, 2023

Dr. Stephanie Larsen

Clinical Pyschologist at Healthy Minds Pyschology Group

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As we embark on a new year, the inevitable conversation about self-improvement and goal-setting arises. However, the cliché of New Year’s Resolutions often loses its appeal quickly, leading to unnecessary stress and disappointment. It’s crucial to recognize that a new year doesn’t demand a complete overhaul of behaviors and habits. Instead, it serves as an opportune time to bring awareness to and motivate changes that you’ve long desired. It also gives a great marker to reflect on what is and is not working in your life currently. It’s important to remember that a resolution is not a laundry list of 15 different goals; it’s a singular, focused objective. Drawing a fine line between wanting change and actively making it happen requires assessing your resources and the pro/con of each goal. Here are practical tips to make this year’s resolution truly stick!

  1. Visualize Your Goal in Daily Practice!
    • If you have the classic, “I’d like to lose 10lbs” goal that’s great, but really visualize how that looks in daily life besides your body visually changing. In this scenario, you’d want to focus on waking up, exercising, eating healthy, having a glass of water next to you while you sit at work instead of your typical cup of coffee, and having energy after your day to go for a walk with your significant other.
  2. Focus on the “how” or Process Along Side the “what”
    • Identify the end goal, but focus on the process of how you will get there.
    • Acknowledge the small steps to obtain the goal
    • A weight-loss goal can’t occur without small goals of maintaining a healthy sleep habit, eating healthy foods, and waking up early each day to increase movement. You can’t increase your salary without the “how” of putting extra work in or building confidence to ask for a raise in your next review.
  3. Anticipate Roadblocks and Obstacles
    • Reflect on past obstacles and strategize ways of overcoming them.
    • Expect challenges and prepare to navigate them with resiliency.
    • Plan for roadblocks and be prepared rather than being disappointed.
  4. Educate Yourself on Habits and Habit Theories
    • Learn from habit experts like James Clear in his popular book “Atomic Habits”.  He makes suggestions including aligning your environment with your goals. If you change your environment to promote your goal you’ll find more success. For example, you can put on workout clothes in the am rather than changing to work clothes so you’re more likely to exercise or if you place your floss next to your toothbrush you’re more likely to floss after brushing.
    • He also suggests building habits that match your identity and that you are trying to achieve rather than listing outcome goals (i.e. “I want to be an athlete or healthy person” rather than “I want to lose weight”).
  5. Focus on YOU and Not Others
    • Resist the temptation to compare yourself to others and their goals or achievements
    • Track your own progress and celebrate personal milestones rather than comparing yourself to others
    • Reflection helps you focus on your successes and areas to focus on!
  6. Document your Success
    • Documenting your progress brings awareness to daily changes and brings awareness to your habits and goals
    • Examples can be journaling your accomplishments for the day, keeping track of efforts or charting changes. If I’m trying to become a runner, I’d benefit from documenting that I did a mile in x amount of time on January 2nd and a mile in x amount of time on January 16th. The comparison is between my own two markers rather than others and everyday progress will be naturally motivating.
  7. Build a Support System
    • Share your goals with others to increase external reinforcement and take accountability.
    • Seek support from friends and others to make it a collective effort. We’re more likely to follow through when we are working as part of a group or team rather than individually.
  8. Embrace the Journey of Improvement
    • Understand that it’s not solely about achieving the end goal but about making sustainable, small changes. Any movement is more movement than yesterday.
    • Even if you fall short of your ultimate goal, appreciate the progress and align yourself more with your desires and motivations.

In essence, let this New Year be a commitment to becoming a more balanced and healthier version of yourself. By incorporating these practical strategies, you’ll find that resolutions can indeed lead to lasting and positive changes.