Set Yourself Up for Success in the New Year

Closeup of legs walking on path

There’s definitely an appeal to New Year’s resolutions. Everyone loves a fresh start.

But it can be easy to get carried away. I’ll lose 50 pounds, stop drinking coffee and never go out to dinner again. Change takes time. By setting realistic goals and focusing on the process, you’re more likely to follow through and see success.

Focus on the steps, not the outcome

“When setting New Year’s resolutions, try to be more process oriented rather than outcome focused,” shared Michael Weinberg, PhD, LPC, Behavioral Health senior manager with Banner Thunderbird Medical Center. “When you don’t see that you’re achieving, you tend to quit. Instead, break down your goal into smaller steps and that should be your focus. Achieving one step then another leads to accomplishing your goals.”

Here’s a good analogy. Let’s say you’re climbing a hill. If you keep looking up to see how far you have to go, you’ll become discouraged. If instead you focus on one step and then the next, soon enough you’ll be at the top of the hill.

Adjusting New Year’s resolutions

Here are some ideas on how to adjust common New Year’s resolutions to be more achievable in 2017.

Original resolution: Exercise every morning
Adjusted resolution: Set my alarm for 45 minutes earlier, wake up on time, put on workout gear and exercise.

Original resolution: Save $2,000
Adjusted resolution: Set up a weekly $40 auto-transfer from my checking account to my savings account.

Original resolution: Have a happier relationship
Adjusted resolution: Tell my significant other I love him/her every day.

Once you’ve set a realistic resolution, there are a couple additional things Dr. Weinberg recommended to help boost your chances of success:

  • Be open to change. Sometimes even the best laid plans need adjustments.
  • Reward yourself along the way. Don’t wait until you achieve your end goal, treat yourself throughout the process.
  • Share your goals with a trusted companion. This will help you stay accountable.
  • Keep your mind healthy as well as your body – read more about this here.

If you fail? Try, try again

Failure happens to everyone – here’s just a few examples.

Even if you don’t accomplish your larger goal, celebrate the steps you achieved and then try again.

Did you want to save $2,000, but only save $400? That’s $400 you didn’t have before. Did you want to exercise every day, but only find time one day a week? Some activity is better than no activity. These smaller accomplishments on the way to the larger accomplishment are something to be proud of.

Still struggling? It may be time to reexamine your goal and seek advice. “Share your goal with someone you have confidence in and who has knowledge and wisdom of what you’re trying to accomplish. Their feedback might help you make it more achievable,” Dr. Weinberg advised.

And always remember that whether it’s Jan. 1 or April 23, every day is a new day and another chance to move toward your goal. You got this. Have a great 2017!

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