Making New Year’s resolutions you can stick to

For many of us, the New Year is the perfect time to set ourselves some goals or challenges, and to think about the changes we might want to make in our lives. Although we have the best of intentions when we set our resolutions, the truth is that very few of us manage to actually stick to them. Here are some tips that might just help you to keep to your resolutions beyond January.

  1. Focus on your values and what is important to you - Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) places a lot of importance and emphasis on values, and for good reason. Our values help to guide us, they can act like a compass in showing us which direction to go in. ACT suggests that a life well lived, is a life lived in line with our values. When we do something that is in line with our values, it generally makes us feel good. Therefore, why not spend some time trying to get in touch with your values, and identifying what is really important to you before you set your New Year's resolutions? For example, if you value being a supportive friend, then try making a resolution linked to this. Check in with a friend more regularly, take an interest in their new job, or spend time getting involved with one of their hobbies. If you make a resolution based on your values, you might find that you are more likely to stick to it because it feels so rewarding. The fact that it is a values based resolution will help to keep you motivated to continue with it and essentially  provides a 'why' to the 'what'.
  2. Combine goals - If you have multiple things that you want to work on, then try combining some of them together so that you aren't spending all of your time working on one resolution after another. For example, if you had goals around doing more exercise, spending more time with friends and making sure you eat healthy, nutritious meals - you could plan something which incorporates all of these different aspects, such as an exercise class with a friend, followed by a nutritious brunch. This means that you are 'ticking off' all three resolutions with one planned activity.
  3. Set SMART goals - This is one of those terms that most of us will have heard of, but when we set ourselves goals, we rarely stick to the SMART principles. Let's remind ourselves of what it stands for - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant  and Timely. We need to set these things out at the beginning, so that we know when we have achieved our goal. If we have a resolution to 'run more', what does this actually look like? When do we know we have achieved that goal? Does it count if we do one more run in 2023 than we did in 2022? Probably not! So we need to set out exactly how often we want to run, what distance we want to run or for what amount of time, and when do we want to be doing this by? We also need to make sure our goals are achievable, if you have never been on a run before then it is probably not realistic to set yourself a goal to complete multiple marathons. Finally we come back to our values - Making your goal relevant to what is important to you and to your wider, or longer term goals.

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