The New Year is supposed to be about optimism – a chance for a fresh start to change our lives for the better.
Not surprisingly, this can be a bit intimidating because we put so much pressure on ourselves. It’s not uncommon to create ridiculously high expectations and unrealistic goals that trigger nerves and anxiety, and ultimately, backfire.
If you’re guilty of making the same New Year’s resolutions year after year and then feeling guilty or ashamed that you didn’t follow them, you’re not alone. This year, resolve to create attainable solutions. Dr. Allison Chase explains how to manage healthy positive changes in a realistic way.
Before even thinking about this year’s resolutions and goals, reflect on the previous year. Where did you go wrong? Where could you have done better? Don’t completely beat yourself up, but provide some constructive criticism so that you don’t make the same mistakes twice.
2. Take your time
Often, we get excited to start these goals and rush into them. It’s extremely important not to rush. Don’t expect to see all your results in January – some goals take time or even the entire year. If you put all your energy into the beginning of the year, you might lose motivation. It’s important to set realistic goals with a realistic timeline to maintain a healthy outcome.
3. Take baby steps
Break down your resolutions into smaller increments. Concentrate on one goal at a time. In a perfect world, we’d be able to achieve all our resolutions no problem, but this is difficult. Focus on eliminating one unhealthy habit at a time, then move on to the next.
4. Surround yourself with encouraging people
Health resolutions can be tedious, so find a friend that is encouraging and helpful. Having a buddy with similar goals helps keep you motivated and is fun! Maybe consider joining a group with similar interests to help give that extra push. If you’re trying to overcome mental health issues, reach out to someone who understands and can listen during those times you want to give up. And make sure to identify any triggers and completely remove them from your life!
5. Celebrate your successes
It’s okay to celebrate! Every time you achieve your goal or get one step closer to achieving your goal, reward yourself. This gives you something to look forward to and helps encourage a positive outcome.
Remember, when the going gets tough, don’t give up. Find it in yourself to stick to your resolution and remind yourself why you’ve established these goals for yourself. It’s a good idea to write down your goals and resolutions at the beginning of the year, so you can keep track of your progress. Also, it’s okay to have some setbacks along the way – that’s life!
Allison Chase, PhD, CEDS is Executive Director of Eating Recovery Center, Austin, Texas.