New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken, goes the saying. Or was that rules are made to be broken? Well, whatever. The thing is, those things—things like that—usually do get broken. I’d quote some grim statistics on this, but I don’t really believe in those either.
According to USA.gov, the most popular yearly New Year’s resolutions are as follows (and why does the government have this kind of info?):
- Drink less alcohol
- Eat healthy food
- Get a better education
- Get a better job
- Get fit
- Lose weight
- Manage debt
- Manage stress
- Quit smoking
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle
- Save money
- Take a trip
- Volunteer to help others
Issues regarding drinking, eating and exercise, weight loss, stress, smoking, etc….all familiar stuff to therapists and clients.
But if more thought doesn’t go into a resolution than just saying it, it’s just a wish, isn’t it—versus a real outcome that’s likely to happen. For example, you want to cut down your drinking? That’s a resolution. And…so…? Well, good luck with that.
Some things to actually consider: How much will you cut down? By when? Have you done this before? If so, how’d you do? Do you have people you can tell your resolution to and/or report to? Will they be supportive? How can you make the journey an enjoyable choice versus a self-assigned punishment?
Goal-setting can help change that too-broad-based resolution thingie into something more attainable. Make it SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Jen A. Miller‘s New York Times article offers details about how to do this. Excerpts follow:
- Specific. “Your resolution should be absolutely clear…”
- Measurable. And, “Logging progress into a journal or making notes on your phone or in an app designed to help you track behaviors can reinforce the progress, no matter what your resolution may be.”
- Achievable. “This doesn’t mean that you can’t have big stretch goals. But trying to take too big a step too fast can leave you frustrated, or affect other areas of your life to the point that your resolution takes over your life — and both you and your friends and family flail…”
- Relevant. “Is this a goal that really matters to you, and are you making it for the right reasons?”
- Time-bound. “Like ‘achievable,’ the timeline toward reaching your goal should be realistic, too.”