Maximizing Your New Year’s Resolutions

You know how it goes: you set a goal, you start strong, and in two months, you stop. The initial burst of energy settles into complacency, and before you know it, you’re back to doing the status quo. What went wrong, you ask yourself? You really wanted to achieve (fill in the blanks), but you just lost steam by February.

New Year’s resolutions can set the goal maker up for failure. According to one New York Times article, four out of 5 people who create new years resolutions will end up breaking them. The article referenced a poll by time management firm Franklin Covey: will break the resolutions because they say they have too many other things to do, while 33% of respondents say they’re just not committed to the goal.

Maximizing your New Year’s resolutions means doing this year what didn’t work last year. According to experts, the real problem with making New Year’s resolutions is that people make the wrong resolutions. What people lack is a specific goal, instead of just a general desire to change.

Here’s some suggestions to help keep you on track when you set out to achieve your New Year’s resolutions:

  1. Start small: don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you start small, and work incrementally, you’ll have more success in working towards achieving your goal.
  2. Hammer out a specific goal: saving money and losing weight are nice things, but what does that really look like in the real world? The more specific that you can get in creating your resolution, the more focused you’ll become. it’s really difficult to just have general desires without that focus, because it’s that focus that burns that image in our minds. The clearer that image is, the easier time it will be for you to move forward towards it.
  3. It’s all in the details: instead of toward some general sense of “weight loss,” “quitting smoking” or “saving more money.” if you could hammer out a specific goal, say “I’ll save $50 a week in a special savings account, and will have it transferred automatically each Friday,” that dramatically increase your chances of conquering it.
  4. Be realistic: you should plan for them, because they can, and will, happen. You may have the best intentions of getting to the gym at 6:00 AM, but realistically, there are going to be mornings were you just don’t feel it getting up to do it. If you leave room for the very real possibility that you might not work towards your goal on certain days, don’t fret, but keep going.
  5. The long haul: If you can keep going and build endurance towards achieving your goal, even through the thick and thin, your strengthening your ability to see through to the completion of your goal. If you can’t see your goal in the long-term, it makes it harder to work towards it in the present. Getting comfortable with working towards your goal in the long haul will make achieving it that much sweeter. If you can develop a relationship with your goal, instead of trying to blindly master it and achieve it in a fixed amount of time, it can make it much easier for you to pace yourself.
  6. Get support: whether it’s friend or family, or your dog, at the support you need to be able to achieve your goal. Do you need new gym equipment or outfits? Do need to schedule appointment with a financial planner? Are there other resources, including time, money, mental energy, that you need to get or summon up? Any good athlete prepares vigorously for competition, and goalsetting is kind of similar. You want to be able to have what you need and know the lay of the land to be able to compete with yourself. Get the support you need, and your journey towards goal resolution will have more of a chance of success. Also, support yourself, because too often, it’s hard for us to give ourselves a pat on the back.
  7. Track your progress: whether you like to journal, give yourself gold stars, or use a smart phone app, track your progress and get an idea of where you are at through the course of your goal. It’s important to get a sense of where you’re at, where you’re going, and where you came from. If you can see what you’ve already accomplished, this can be gratifying and can inspire you to keep going. Numbers always help, and guys like tracking numbers, so find a cool app and get going.

New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be thrown by the wayside by February. If you truly value something, and want to see it appear as a change in your life, you can have it. If you want it bad enough, you can have it. Try to follow some of these steps to help support you in your journey, and see your goal become reality sooner than you think.


About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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