We often make new year resolutions in haste. Of course, we try to think it through carefully. Nevertheless, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season usually distract us. By the time that January 1st rolls around, our minds can’t really focus on what we need.
That’s why it is really helpful to take some time in February or March to review your resolutions list. This gives you a chance to see what is working. More importantly, it allows you to see what isn’t quite right. Therefore, you have the chance to shift gears while it’s still early in the new year.
Review Your New Year Resolutions
Think about the new year resolutions that you made this year. What is your first reaction? It might be one of the following things:
- Groan, I’m not doing any of them at all.
- Hm, some are working for me, but some aren’t.
- I’d like to stick with all of them, but I’m not sure how.
- I didn’t make any new year resolutions, or I can’t remember what they were.
If you fall into one of the first two categories, then you need to eliminate or change your resolutions. After all, you want to work towards long-term change. You can only do that if your goals inspire or motivate you.
Update Those Resolutions
If you have resolutions that are working, that’s great. Keep those. If you fall into the third category, then it sounds like you do want to accomplish those goals, but you need a plan. Finally, if you don’t have any resolutions, yet, or you feel that you need new ones, then now is the time to make those.
Make a short list of the resolutions that are most important to you this year. The amount varies, but a good target is to aim to have 3-5 resolutions. Summarize each of those resolutions in one word.
Write those words down on individual index cards. Now, hold each card in your hand. Look at it. Ask yourself what it makes you feel. If you feel motivated, inspired, and excited, then it’s the right resolution. If you feel dread, shame, or anger then it might not be the right time to work on this.
The most important thing to ask yourself is “what matters.” In other words, what are your values? What are your overarching life priorities and goals? Furthermore, how do your new year resolutions fit in with those goals?
Make a Plan to Meet Your Goals
Once you’ve chosen or re-confirmed your resolutions, you’re ready to make a plan. First, break down each resolution into measurable, manageable goals.
For example, “fitness” is a vague, general goal. Define that. Your goal might be to run one mile three times per week. You can measure whether or not you’ve met that goal. Is it a manageable goal, meaning one that challenges you but is still realistic?
Make a list of your measurable goals. In some cases, you might need to break a larger goal down with a timeline. For example, if you want to run five miles per day by the end of the year, then you might start with one mile per day for three months, then increase to three miles per day for three months, and so on.
Staying Focused for the Long-Term
Creating a timeline-based plan for working on measurable, manageable goals gets you most of the way there. However, in order to succeed, you also need support. You need people in your life who will help hold you accountable and keep you encouraged. This might mean:
- Pairing up with a buddy for regular check-ins.
- Joining a support group related to your goal.
- Posting updates about your goal on social media.
- Tracking your goal with an app that has a community-based element.
A therapist can also help you set and achieve your New Year resolutions. I ‘d love to help you set manageable goals and make plans that feel right for you. Take some time to learn about my counseling services here.