It’s that time again, when everyone is setting goals and making resolutions to become a better version of themselves in the coming year. For many of us, we fear it will be the same old story we went through in years past…starting out positive and motivated with our goals in the first few weeks, only to slowly get side-tracked and discouraged as we fall back into our old habits.
Psychology Today states that one of the main reasons we tend to fail in our New Year’s resolutions is because we try to initiate drastic changes all at once, instead of making small, incremental changes to reach our goals (Robert J. Maurer, ‘Why Change is So Hard’, Psychology Today). When we try to take on big changes all at once, we often wind up feeling discouraged, because it is intimidating to suddenly take on a whole change of lifestyle. When our new goals trigger feelings of fear, this initiates a ‘fight or flight’ response in us, and we can either find ourselves stuck and unable to move forward or moving away from our goals (Maurer, Psychology Today).
Instead of setting out to become a completely different person in the year ahead, why not try just focusing on one area of your life you would like to improve? Then, break that one goal down into smaller steps that are realistic and achievable. Here are some practical ways to achieve these ‘small step’ goals:
- Write down an amount of time you would like to spend working towards your goal for each day
- Decide on a time of day for when you would like to incorporate a new habit
- Give yourself small rewards for sticking to your plan
- Allow yourself to make mistakes, and take it one day at a time
If you don’t reach your goal for one day, start over the next day. Don’t give up completely just because you aren’t perfectly achieving your goals.
It is my hope that this time of year provides you with a chance to evaluate your life and gives you a sense of having a fresh start in the areas you want to improve. Remember that you do not have to accomplish your goals perfectly, and you are already valuable and worthy of love and acceptance, just as you are.
Hanna Counselling is a professional counselling service based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and seeks to help people improve their mental, emotional, and relational health through one to one and group counselling. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.