Researchers estimate that between 80% – 90% of new year’s resolutions fail annually and almost 50% fail after the first month. Failure of these goals can cause doubt, anxiety, and impact mood which can be detrimental in a new year. There are ways to help create and maintain success with your new year’s resolutions throughout the year. Here are some tips:
1. Create Realistic Goals and Expectations
One of the main reasons why many resolutions fail is due to unrealistic goals and expectations. Simplicity is key when creating goals (especially when implementing changes that are new). It is important to create a manageable list of goals that will help with your overall success. Our brains respond well to small achievable goals because they build momentum and eventually lead to larger achievements. For example, if a goal is to go to the gym 5 days/weekly in the new year, try reducing the frequency to 1-2 days/ weekly.
Once you have shown consistency with going to the gym 1-2 days/weekly, gradually increase the days until you can start going consistency 5 days/weekly. Also, have flexibility. If you recognize that the number of days does not fit your schedule or if there are other competing responsibilities (childcare, work, daily tasks, etc) that are causing scheduling conflicts or burnout, modify your goals to accommodate the changes.
2. Create Strategies
“A goal is a desired outcome. A strategy is a desired outcome combined with a plan to achieve it. Create strategies not just goals.” – Best-selling book author James Clear. It is important that as you create and work towards your goals, that there is a specific plan for successful completion. For example, simply saying, “I want to become less anxious” as a goal does not address the concern. Write down how do you anticipate becoming less anxious.
Strategies could include: seeking therapy, being more open with your family, partner, or peers about the difficulties you have been experiencing, learning anxiety management skills, learning relaxation techniques, recognizing possible triggers. improving self-care etc.
3. Know your Why
There is a reason why highly successful businesses and organizations have clearly outlined mission statements and objectives along with measures to ensure that they are being consistent with their vision and objectives. The mission is always highlighted so that there is always an understanding of what they are working towards and why they are working towards it. Knowing your why related to your goals will be extremely helpful with your new year’s resolutions.
Ask yourself, “what is my why in life?” Whatever your answer is, allow it to be your driving force this year so that no matter what obstacles you face with your goals this year or in life in general, you have your why as a source of strength to manage any form of adversity. For me personally, my wife, my son, and my family in general has always served as my why in life which has been invaluable with achieving my goals. Take time to reflect on your why and the reasons you chose the people or things you highlighted.
4. Remain Positive
I am a firm believer that if you win the morning, you win the day. Each morning you wake up, create a routine to help get the day started (if you haven’t already created one). Consider assessing your goals and what you hope to accomplish each day as you work towards achieving your ultimate goals (new years resolutions). Before you go to bed evaluate your progress on what you aimed at accomplishing that day. Some of the most successful people incorporate this concept because of its psychological benefits. It helps us mentally when we start each day with a purpose and end the day knowing we accomplished our goals.
As a reminder, only create realistic and achievable goals without overwhelming yourself. Consider breathing exercises which help with relaxation like the 4-3-4 technique (inhaling for four seconds, hold for 3, and then exhaling for four seconds). Deep breathing is our body’s natural reset button which can help with stress management, anxiety management, and emotion regulation. Consider affirmations and positive thoughts that you focus on starting in the morning and maintain throughout the day. Research shows that positive thinking has immense benefits on our mental and physical health. Also, if doubt and anxiety tries to creep in, quickly dismiss these thoughts. Whenever we are doing something new or there is uncertainty about a particular task, it is common to experience doubt and anxiety. However, if we do not entertain the thoughts, our brain will learn to mitigate the frequency.
Think of YouTube as an example. The YouTube algorithm will continue to show us videos we have “liked” or have shown interest in watching. If we do not show interest or no longer show interest, the algorithm will adapt to remove content we do not want or no longer have an interest in watching. Our brains work exactly the same. Therefore, remain positive and dismiss unwanted messages.
5. Have Fun!
A new year brings new excitement. Embrace your goals and have fun working towards achieving them! Also, show yourself grace and compassion. There will be potential difficulties that you will experience and that’s OK. Whenever challenges present themselves, remember tip # 3 to help with navigating the specific obstacles and make adjustments when necessary. I commend you for taking the first step in creating goals for self-improvement and wanting to have a successful and happy 2023. I hope these tips can assist with the process. Again, have a fun and happy new year, and all the best from me and the entire PTF team!
“The opposite of anxiety is trust. This year, work to trust yourself and the process while being relentless with achieving your goals.”
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