As 2021 comes to a close, many of us are looking ahead to the new year — a time marked by a clean slate and endless possibilities. This time of self- reflection often leads to resolutions, which tend to include immense pressure to achieve unrealistic goals. Today, I want to discuss how New Year’s resolutions impact your mental health and then offer three goals that are motivating, achievable, and beneficial to your wellbeing.
The Importance of Setting Realistic Resolutions
Did you know that only eight percent of people who make a New Year’s resolution stick with it all year? Moreover, 80 percent of people give up on their goals by February. The most common reasons why people fail aren’t surprising: unreasonable or unmeasurable expectations, an all-or-nothing mentality, and a lack of accountability.
The setting of lofty goals can lead to self-sabotaging behavior before we even realize it. It’s no secret that failure impacts our mental health in negative ways and makes us feel worthless or unconfident. To set healthy resolutions, you should be reasonable in your expectations. Life happens! Sometimes, your plans will get off track. Know that you will fail at times and that it’s okay. Try to create a flexible timeline that allows you to make small, incremental progress towards your goal. Find a way to monitor your efforts so you have tangible proof of your hard work. This practice will be particularly important on days when you feel like quitting. And finally, avoid falling into the trap of comparison. Your journey is yours alone, and all you can do is try your best.
Three Resolutions to Support Your Mental Health
Recently, I’ve shared blogs on gratitude, mindfulness, and work-life balance. These three ideas — along with the three resolutions below— can work together to support your mental health in the coming year.
Practice kinder self-talk: The voice in your head is more powerful than you think. It shapes how you feel about yourself and the world around you. Oftentimes, we don’t realize that our self-talk is critical and negative. Commit to gradually making this voice a more positive one. Try to recognize when you’re being hard on yourself and then reframe your reaction. For instance, “I always mess things up” may morph into “Everyone makes mistakes. I’m just doing my best.” Think about what you would say to a close friend in a similar situation. Before you know it, you’ll be your biggest cheerleader!
Focus on fun: The New Year does not have to mean a new you. Instead, simply consider trying something new. If you’ve always wanted to be more confident in the kitchen, sign up for a cooking class. If you’re tired of waiting for the perfect time to write that novel, wake up early and dedicate an hour each morning to your book. Think about what would make you happiest and let that lead you.
Learn to say no: Your time and energy are your most important resources. When you’re constantly overextending yourself, you’re not only hurting yourself but also those closest to you. In order to maintain (and even improve!) your presence and your patience in the new year, commit to saying no to things that don’t serve you. Identify your priorities — the people and activities that matter most to you — and keep them front of mind as other things inevitably pop up and demand your attention.