How To Make A New Year Resolution Work

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By Chantelle K. Dockter,
MA, Licensed Professional Counselor
Associate of CCCOW,.

Question: I always make New Year’s resolutions but they never seem to last for longer than a few weeks. With the New Year quickly approaching, how do I set resolutions that I will stick with?

Answer: First of all, let me say that you are not alone! Men and women everywhere vow to make grand changes for the next year, and then end up feeling discouraged or like they failed if their resolutions don’t hold up. Where do we go wrong?

For women, the top resolutions typically pertain to weight loss/appearance, and finances. We tape pictures of size 0 models in bikinis to our fridges to motivate us. However, it only makes us feel overwhelmed and bad about ourselves so we then turn for comfort to good ole’ Ben and Jerry’s…and there went the resolution. At least until the next year, when the same scenario is bound to play out.

One of the problems with resolutions is that we don’t make them realistic enough. I prefer to start each year setting realistic, attainable “goals”, something you take steps toward one by one. Goals that you can break down so they are more manageable and can fit into our already existent schedule.

Another problem is that our focus is off. I believe we should focus on being healthy women; mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially. If you have the overall goal of health, changes are made for the right reasons and are easier to break down and accomplish. For instance, being a size 0 with a 24 inch waist loses the goal of health for most women. On the other hand, deciding to eat healthier and exercise more to tone up and have more energy is more positive and motivating, hence the chances of sticking with the goal increase.

We also tend to set too many goals at a time, wanting to “overhaul” anything we don’t like. Ladies, my challenge to you for 2010 is to pick 3-5 goals for yourself that will feed your soul and lead towards a healthier you. Here are some options, however this list is certainly not exhaustive.

1. Plant a garden. Getting your hands in the earth can be satisfying and therapeutic, and your plot will yield fresh food to be enjoyed. This also is a way to save money on your grocery bill, which always feels good!

2. Find interesting/fun ways to increase your activity level. Take a kickboxing or spin class, or if you are really brave try heat yoga. You can also pick a specific event to train for, such as a race.

3. Find a new hobby, such as photography or pottery painting. You can feel good about creating something, and seeing personal growth as you put time into your chosen hobby.

4. Take a cooking class and experiment making new recipes for your family (maybe with the veggies you grew in your garden!) You can also make this a family interactive time by cooking together, with each person in charge of a certain task.

5. Vow to read a new book for pleasure each month (no, People magazine does not count). You can broaden this goal by starting a book club to discuss this book with a group of friends.

6. Have a coffee date biweekly with a friend. After each visit, put the next date on the calendar right away so it is sure to happen, even if you have to plan out a ways.

These goals are more focused on health and the journey to get there is more realistic and pleasant. Setting yourself up to succeed is vital, rather than being self-defeating. Take a few minutes as 2009 draws to a close to pick your own 3-5 goals….and know you are worth putting the energy into reaching them.

Written by,
Chantelle K. Dockter MA, Licensed Professional Counselor
Associate of CCCOW, CCCOW.org