A new year is quickly approaching, and with a new year comes an opportunity for a new start – right? While January 1st will begin a new calendar year, that doesn’t guarantee a new, “clean” slate for anyone. Even though 2023 might not provide the new beginning you were hoping for, it does offer the time to think about new hopes and goals for the new year. If you are planning on making new year’s resolutions, we encourage you to think about what resolutions are worth keeping and which resolutions you should let go of.
What Is A Resolution?
Cambridge dictionary defines a resolution as “a promise to yourself to do or to not do something.” So when we think about a new year’s resolution, we are thinking about a promise to start doing something or stop doing something in the new year. Oftentimes we struggle to keep promises we make to ourselves, because we struggle even keeping promises we make to other people! Our hope is to provide you with tools that will help you set realistic, attainable goals for 2023.
Resolutions Worth Keeping
As you think about setting goals for the upcoming year, consider what resolutions are really worth keeping. Resolutions worth keeping are goals that:
- Align With Your Values: Take a moment to think about what your values are. When thinking about this, we encourage you to think beyond only what religion you may be part of. Instead, also think about things that are important to you and your life. These values may include things like family, friends, spirituality, freedom, connectedness, and adventure, among other things. Once you have thought about your values, take a look at your goals and see how they measure up to the values you have. For example: If you value family, you probably will not want to set a goal that will mean spending excessive time away from your family.
- Can Be Consistently Followed Through: Look at the goals you have for yourself, and ask “Is this something that I can be consistent with?” Sometimes people make huge resolutions only to be disappointed when they are not able to follow through with such a big change. For example: If your goal is to lose weight, think about if you are already exercising and eating healthier. If not, maybe your resolution would be to make small, gradual changes to your exercise and eating habits. As you are consistent with small goals, you will find yourself able to gradually make changes.
- Help You Become Who You Want To Be: Think about the person you want to be. Once you have this picture in mind, use that to set goals that will help you work towards becoming that person.
Using The “SMART” Acronym
One helpful tool for creating resolutions worth keeping is the “SMART” acronym:
- SPECIFIC: Make sure that your goal is specific. Identify the “what, why, and how” for your goal – What are you trying to accomplish? Why do you want to accomplish this goal? How will you accomplish it?
- MEASUREABLE: Make sure that your goal is measurable. Maybe you start off with dedicating one day to practicing self-care. Once you accomplish this, you can increase it until you meet your overall goal. While you have a resolution for the year, you can make progress towards your resolution throughout the year.
- ATTAINABLE: Make sure that your goal is attainable. For Example: If you are a new mom, you might not be able to get up every morning at 5am to practice self-care. You need to think of what is realistic for your situation. You might need to think of who might be able to support you with obtaining this goal. You might have to get creative and identify a plan to practice self-care once your baby is asleep.
- RELEVANT: Make sure that your goal is relevant. Do you have the necessary resources, skills, and time to accomplish this goal? Do you need some support to accomplish your goal? Who or what can support you? Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- TIME RESTRAINT: Remember that you do not have to accomplish your goal overnight. Progress is truly better than perfection. Set smaller goals and give yourself a time frame to accomplish those goals.
Let’s say for instance that your goal for the new year is to improve the bond you have with your child. This is a specific goal. Next, how will you measure this goal? You might set some short-term goals: Setting up family therapy to help with communication and have at-least one night that you all gather as a family. You might write this on your calendar or schedule the time in your phone so that you follow through with it. You see how these two short-term goals are relevant towards your overall goal? And then, you want to identify a time frame to accomplish those goals. You see how we went through the steps of creating a SMART goal?
SMART Resolution Examples
Now that we’ve talked about what resolutions are worth keeping and how to use the SMART acronym, let’s look at examples of goals that meet the criteria we talked about.
- Take on a new hobby, such as painting or rock climbing.
- Commit to a date night every week or month.
- Improve personal level of exercise.
- Learn how to resolve conflict with other people.
- Start keeping a journal.
- Work toward learning a new language or skill by practicing so many minutes a week.
- Save $100, $1000, or more.
- Identify ways to help me to stay calm in challenging situations.
- Improve my bond with my children or spouse.
- Stop smoking or drinking.
- Improve personal self-awareness.
- Read a book each month.
- Strengthen relationships with friends.
- Travel to a new place.
- Develop relationships with other people.
All of these are goals that can be broken down into smaller steps to be accomplished over time.
Helpful Resources For Goal Setting
Here are some great resources that may be helpful as you consider if setting resolutions are right for you:
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- 10% Happier by Dan Harris
- Just Eat it by Laura Thomas PhD
- You are Here by Thich Nhat Hahn
- Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari & Eric Klinenberg
- Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Eat that Frog! by Brian Tracy
- Change your Schedule, Change your Life by Suhas Kshirsagar
Here are some apps that might help you with reaching your new goal:
- QuitNow!: For those that want to quit smoking.
- Headspace: For those who want support in building focus and meditation skills.
- Skyscanner: For those wanting to travel more in 2023.
- MyFitnessPal: For those who want to lose weight or gain a more physically active lifestyle.
- Qapital: For those who want to save more money.
- Match Dating: For those wanting to start dating.
- Way of Life!: For those wanting to establish new habits.
- Nomo: For those wanting sobriety.
If you find that you are feeling overwhelmed as you start the new year, therapy can be a great way to help you create a new foundation for your life. Garrett Counseling has counselors who are available to help you to identify realistic resolutions and/or goals that you are able to keep with yourself. Remember, progress is way more better than perfection. Contact us today if we can help you thrive in 2023!
This article was written by Dr. Ashley Garrett, PhD, LPCS, RPTS, ACS, NCC, a mental health professional at Garrett Counseling.
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