New Year’s Resolve
Most of us start thinking about New Year Resolutions the morning after Christmas. It is a natural response to weeks of over indulgence, gluttony and greed…all good motivators. The problem with New Year’s Resolutions though is that making change is hard, and it requires a fair amount of resolve to pull off, sometimes more than we have.
The black and white way we typically envision our resolution, results in an unnecessary focus on our miss-steps. Typically folks resolve to change something that they have a long history of struggle with changing, so they are impatient with themselves before they even begin.
Here is a strategy to help you in your efforts to maintain your resolve in the face of less than perfect execution of your goals.
Every single time you have a moment of success with your goals, you need to give yourself some serious praise. You won’t want to, because you are already fed-up with yourself, but you have to treat yourself the same way you would treat a good friend or a kid who was trying hard to fight against their strongest urges.
In fact, if you can give yourself serious praise, and let yourself feel accomplishment for each step, you will be adding a bit of immediate gratification of pride into the mix, which helps with everything.
Here is what I mean. If your goal is healthier eating (as opposed to weight loss, which is a lousy goal to start with) then every time you eat a meal that resembles the kind of healthy eating you are shooting for, then be proud. It doesn’t have to be a whole day’s worth, or week’s worth, or result in weight loss. It is still an accomplishment to be proud of every single time you feel good about the choice you made.
If you are trying to quite smoking, and you manage to hold out an hour, it is improvement, and absolutely must be celebrated.
Once you are focused on your failures, and berating yourself, you are making success almost impossible. Imagine berating a kid who is trying to learn or change something. Even if you don’t know how to lose the fantasy that you deserve to be berated, at least believe that a negative, judgmental environment is not one you are likely to grow and change in.
So, congrats on your decision to making change by trying to work on parts of yourself. Not everyone out there is worrying about what kind of person they are, much less working on it. You are. Be proud.
Interesting history of the word: It comes originally from the sense of “a solving”, as in mathematical problems. It then evolved into a”power of holding firmly” in the 1500’s. It first appears as part of a New Year’s Resolution in reference to a specific intention to better oneself in the 1780s, through generally of a pious nature.
Smith is and analytically oriented psychotherapist with 25 years in practice. She is additional the Founder/Director of Full Living: A Psychotherapy Practice, which specializes in matching clients with seasoned clinicians in the Greater Philadelphia Area.
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