How not to break your New Year’s Resolutions – 5 top tips from psychologist

January 17th is the day when most New Year’s Resolutions go by the wayside, according to research. But that need not happen to you – if you’re aware, attuned, and have the right strategies in place. People put so much pressure on themselves to change their lives in January that it can be a very stressful time of year, rather than one that is hopeful at the start of the new year. Which is why 80% of resolutions are broken by February.

Smriti Joshi, Chief Psychologist at AI mental health app Wysa, shares her top tips for making your New Year’s Resolutions work for you.

Remember your why

It’s essential to not make a goal or resolution in isolation, bu couch the resolution in the bigger picture. Do you want to go to the gym three times a week because you love the gym, or because you want to be fitter to have energy for life? Do you want a promotion for the job title or to earn more money so you can take your loved ones on holiday? For you happiness on the beach might be more motivating than updating your LinkedIn profile.  Knowing the ultimate purpose will help you when things get tough.

Be honest with yourself

Check in that they are your resolutions – so often we make goals based on what society says – do you really have to lose weight/meditate every day/walk 10,000 steps/host a monthly dinner party or has someone told you do? Be prepared to ditch what doesn’t serve you. If you find yourself already questioning whether this is something that makes you happy, it might be time to let go of it.

Have a support crew

Telling people what your goals are can help make you feel accountable. If you’re too embarrassed by perhaps what you’re aiming for or admitting to poor habits from the past, just write them down in a journal or using Wysa.

One way of giving yourself support is making the goals visible. It’s a gentle nudge. Stick your goals on the fridge, and have reminders on your phone, so they’re front of mind every day. This helps reduce the mental load of digging them out and making a plan.

Remember context

Contrary to popular lore it’s not a new year, new you or a new start. We can never truly begin again. You already have a life, experiences, and things that will shape the way you think, behave, and the year 2024. If you have a stressful job, three young children, a long commute etc are you really going to write a novel in a month? Be realistic. If you’re overwhelmed by Jan 17th you’re unlikely to stick it out 365 days, so maybe reframe and think about a paragraph a day.

If you create unrealistic goals you will just feel bad that you haven’t achieved them, when the reality might be that they weren’t the goals for you because they weren’t considered in a holistic way.

Be kind

It’s essential to be kind to yourself when things don’t go as planned. Remember, it’s okay if you can’t follow through with your goals for a day, two, or even more. Don’t judge yourself. Just pick up from where you left off, and trust that the progress you’ve made isn’t lost. You’ll catch up to where you were before, even if there was a temporary pause in your plans. Keep believing in your ability to move forward. Be prepared to rejig expectations if something comes up, and remember that a few steps forward are better than none.

Featured Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash.

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