The Do’s and Don’ts of new year resolutionsAugust 4, 2014
New Year Resolutions are commonly considered and rarely followed through. While New Year resolutions are driven by positive qualities of hope and optimism, they can also be related to a belief that the year brings a “fresh slate” to work from. Common resolutions include saving money and budgeting more effectively, losing weight and/or getting fitter, stopping smoking and attending more to meaningful relationships.
In saying this, resolutions and goals are a worthwhile concept- if considered realistically and with good levels of insight and motivation for change. Cloud Clinic provide the following recommendations for identifying New Year Resolutions that increase the likelihood of change.
- Start with reflection and insight: Before planning for the future, reflect on the past year in each important part of your life. For example, taking a “helicopter” perspective, consider your year in the key areas of physical and mental well-being, relationships with important others, work, financial stability, education, etc. Note some positives in your achievements in each of these areas and then list 1-2 areas that require attention or haven’t gone so well.
- List possible goals for the New Year: on a separate piece of paper write a list of possible New Year resolutions/goals to be considered from each area of your life.
- Consider your motivation for each goal and barriers to change: For each possible goal make notes of the advantages and disadvantages of change in these areas and also make a note about your motivation to change. There is a difference between thinking that it is important to work on this and being ready to commit yourself to action. In fact, research demonstrates that motivation to change happens in different stages that include precontemplation ( limited insight and thought about changing), contemplation (considering the importance of this), preparation (making plans for change), action (implementing the plan) and maintenance (continuing to implement behaviours post the change occurring to make it a routine and way of life). Most people reach the contemplation and preparation stage at New Years without moving it into action and then maintenance. In this section, also consider things that may get in the way (barriers) to changing. These may include finances, a long history of problematic behaviour, dependence on others for support, addiction.
- New Behaviours and Routines take months to make: It takes consistency over a period of approximately 3 months to form new routines. For those who do reach ‘action’ stage, most do not continue to implement these changes for long enough for the efforts to pay off. If you are motivated for change, ensure that you are motivated for change over a period of months, rather than thinking that you can take it one day at a time.
- Choose 2 goals from your list that a) have good benefits, b) that you are motivated to change, c) that have few barriers and that d) you believe are realistic for you to expect of yourself. Also ensure that these goals are ones that you are willing to follow through on over a period of months.
- It is ok to not make resolutions: if the resolution activity is too overwhelming and leaves you feeling anxious, make a more general commitment to a short-term task such as reading a self-help/happiness book, to setting up reminders in your phone to remind you to reflect and do the best that you can do in each area of your life, to calling a friend or contributing to the community for one day, to starting your year off with a clean bedroom, to telling the people that you love that you love them.
- Maximise each day for what it brings: the best approach to happiness and well-being is to do the best you can do on each day. Face the challenges that the day brings and approach it with curiosity and willingness to ride any negativity that comes with it. Knowing what is important to you and doing the best that you can will bring about success and well-being.
- Remember it doesn’t have to be New Years to set goals for yourself: successful and happy people remain insightful throughout the year and consistently work on the areas that are important to them. Reflect throughout the year and be willing to set goals for yourself as they come up if they are realistic and achievable for where you are at that time in your life.
Cloud Clinic wish you a Happy and Fulfilling New Year!