How to Actually Keep Your Resolutions

By Arielle Sheinman, LCSW

It’s that time again- time to reflect on the year that’s passed and plan for the one ahead. A time to make New Years resolutions and set goals for change. Keeping difficult New Year’s resolutions can be extremely challenging. We often set goals that are unrealistic; leaving us with feelings of frustration and disappointment by the year’s end. Before you make your next round of New Year’s resolutions, lets discuss a plan to help guarantee you can reach your goals.

Set SMART goals – Specific, Measureable, Action-Oriented Realistic and Time Limited

  • Specific: Your goals need to be clear, concise, and well defined. Be as detailed as you can when setting a new goal.
  • Measureable: It is important that you have a way to measure your success. Set goals with time frames, dates, dollar amounts, number of credits, etc.
  • Achievable: The goal must require you to take action, not a reaction. Create a list of actions you plan to take to accomplish your goal.
  • Realistic: Create a goal that’s personal, attainable, and manageable. Letting others set your goals for you leads to low motivation and high anxiety.
  • Time limited: Goals should have a starting point, a time-line and an ending point. Break down goals into categories such as short term versus long term.

Start a Mood Diary

Tracking your moods both positive and negative will shed light on how creating and sticking to new habits makes you feel. The diary will also help you track time and hold yourself accountable.  A tip: color code the diary with post-its (red for angry, blue for sad, yellow for happy). The visual will make the evidence hard to ignore!

Reward Yourself

Develop a list of targets that you plan to reach as you work through your resolutions. Allow for a reward or prize when the milestone is achieved. Keeping a list of rewards will help you stay motivated, particularly when you are wavering with your commitment to the resolution.

Feel free to contact us regarding other ways to create and maintain healthy habits through effective goal setting.