Tips for Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

Making a Resolution is only the first step

Many of us may find that we hope to focus on making headway in 2021 by setting New Year’s resolutions. While it’s very common for us to use the New Year as a launching point for self-improvement, I would like to take a moment to discuss some important themes to keep in mind now that we are approaching 2021.

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Please note, the information in this post is not a replacement for personal medical advice.
By Jeff Brookens, MBA, MA, TLMFT

Creating resolutions is the first step, but this step alone won’t fix anything unless you can follow through. Let’s face it, 2020 was a bit challenging. Luckily, it’s almost over. Let’s all take a big, deep breath and try our best to move on a little. Sure, 2021 won’t be a cure all, but it’s a fresh start.

Many of us may find that we hope to focus on making headway in 2021 by setting New Year’s resolutions. I would like to take a moment to discuss some important things to keep in mind now that we are approaching 2021. Here are some tips to help you follow through with your goals.

Be reasonable and patient

If you have chosen resolutions that are not reasonably attainable, you have set yourself up for failure. One of the most difficult things to overcome while working to improve yourself is trying to constantly overcome the fact that you’re “not measuring up”. If you can’t keep yourself from dreaming big, then at least allow yourself to be patient for the big outcome. If your 2021 resolution MUST be to become an astronaut, maybe allow yourself to find success in smaller steps toward your goal: starting a degree path in STEM, plan a trip to Cape Canaveral, work to overcome your fear of heights! The best changes don’t happen overnight, but rather over time.

Be forgiving and flexible

While it may seem a bit counterproductive, allow yourself to fail on occasion. One skill that is often taught in therapy is the idea of setting healthy boundaries. Whether considering boundaries in your relationships, or boundaries in meeting goals for self-improvement, it’s best to perhaps take the route of Goldilocks. “Not too hot, not too cold, but just right.” Being too rigid allows no room for flexibility or failure. Being too flexible does not provide sufficient structure. Set deadlines for goals so that you can plan out your attack…….. but also forgive yourself when you find that you may not be hitting milestones on time. Early failures are often easy opportunities to give up!

Allow for adjustments

Sometimes it can be difficult to know what your resolutions for the coming year should be by January 1st. If you’ve taken the time to be mindful, reflective, and thoughtful about your resolutions – what’s to say that you can’t maintain that level of consideration throughout the year? Trust in your own judgement when you feel that you may need to adjust or change your goals. Similar to allowing flexibility in timing, allow yourself the ability to completely change your goals if that is what is best. Perhaps you are working to reach the long-term goal of becoming an astronaut and you start to feel a strong interest in developing software or creating new equipment instead. Why force yourself to keep the same trajectory, when you have found something along the way that seems to fit your needs better?

Be true to yourself

Goals set for others (or at the request of others) can be worthwhile and fulfilling, but they can also be more difficult to follow through on. There’s no reason to set goals that only benefit yourself, or goals that only benefit others – so just try to make sure that you are choosing a path that is going to align with your values. There’s When you have taken the time to set goals that benefit you and the people you enjoy being around, any goals that you meet will be noticed on multiple fronts. For example – I can certainly enjoy how much my family enjoys eating my “World-Famous Pumpkin Pie” at Thanksgiving, but I know that I also find the satisfaction to be much more direct when I eat it and myself. The best outcome is when I cook the pie and then get to enjoy it with my family and friends.

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Additionally, you can check out our self-guided mindfulness course. To view all of our self-guided courses, visit selfhelp.strengthenu.com.

Jeff Brookens, MBA, MA, TLMFT
Jeff Brookens, MBA, MA, TLMFT
Jeff has a unique background that allows him to approach mental health with a wide lens. He believes that comfort is a large factor in a client’s success. Therefore, his primary goal is to help clients feel comfortable. This is done by creating a safe space where people feel secure, heard, and seen.
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Jeff Brookens, MBA, MA, TLMFT
Jeff Brookens, MBA, MA, TLMFT
Jeff has a unique background that allows him to approach mental health with a wide lens. He believes that comfort is a large factor in a client’s success. Therefore, his primary goal is to help clients feel comfortable. This is done by creating a safe space where people feel secure, heard, and seen.
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