The Dreaded New Year’s Resolution
The dawn of the New Year is upon us and with that comes the anxiety of what we want to do for a resolution to improve our lives by committing to some serious changes. While some of us go into this commitment with the strength and vigor necessary to begin, and stay on top of, the things we opted to do different, there are many who are left with an overall feeling of dread.
The thought of facing another new year may bring about memories of the past and trying to meet the challenges of implementing change in life and it can feel terribly overwhelming, ultimately leading to a feeling of failure and little strength to move forward. This can sometimes also be a time where we feel disappointed in ourselves for not accomplishing certain things we set out to do.
Common thoughts may be- “I hate New Year Resolutions.” “I always fail at keeping my New Year’s Resolution.” “Why do I need the New Year to be the reason for change?” We’ve all either heard or thought these things at one time in life. If deciding upon a New Year’s Resolution is a must for you but creates the anxiety of failure perhaps it’s time to take a look at what happens that leads to your disappointment. There are a few things to consider that might be contributing to why your resolution plans peter out quickly.
1) You bit off more than you can chew.
How big is the change you want for yourself? It’s not uncommon for individuals to see a big goal in mind for some changes they want in life. We have a tendency to keep the end vision in sight and neglect the steps it might take to get there. The steps in the big picture need to be nurtured a great deal in order to achieve significant outcome. Consider taking your goals and pairing them down to something that you can accomplish.
In example, if you decided to “lose weight” this new year- what’s your plan? For some people a radical diet change may be too much and set oneself up for failure right from the start. It takes a great deal of commitment to (radical) changes if you have not already been implementing them in your daily life. A better approach may be to commit yourself to “I’m going to start making healthier food choices and make one new change a month”- and make 1-2 changes in your diet to start.
2) Your goal is too broad.
If you plan to make changes- how broad is your goal? Try to be specific about what you would like to accomplish. If you decide to commit to “self-care” think about some specifics of what you can do to begin some self-care routines for yourself. Be specific in deciding the ways you want to accomplish this goal. Consider making the commitment to “I will do one self-care activity a week.” Or, “I will commit to 15 minutes of self-care activity 3 times a week.” Get your calendar out and schedule that time for yourself. If finding time is a challenge, this may require you to evaluate areas of your life that can be put aside. (For some this may mean learning to say “no” to others who want your help in order to create that time!)
3) You lose the motivation to keep your goal.
We all do it- having the excitement to make a change we feel strongly about and losing the motivation to keep up with the challenges of our goals. Making changes in life takes a great deal of energy so it’s not uncommon to reach a point where we either get too relaxed with a goal or find it’s too much to keep up. It might be helpful to think ahead about what to do if certain things might stand in the way of the goal.
If trying to keep up with a healthy diet is your goal, ask yourself- “How will I manage going out to eat?” “What will I do if someone brings donuts to the office?” It’s important to consider areas that might cause you to go off course with your goal. By being better prepared you stand a greater chance of maintaining your goal. (You may also want to check in with yourself and determine if your goal is still too broad.)
Develop a plan that will help you get back on course if things somehow fall to the wayside. Be careful not to be too upset with yourself if things don’t go as planned. Keep your goal in mind and follow your plan to get back on track. Sometimes we hold ourselves to perfection- once that perfection is tainted it’s easy to just completely give up. You’re only human!
4) You feel anxious about creating a New Year’s Resolution.
It may be helpful to understand that you DON’T need to create a New Year’s Resolution! Yes, you read that correctly- you don’t need a resolution this new year. If the thought of coming up with a goal and sticking to it just feels to overwhelming, don’t use the New Year to be the reason to make a change. Ask yourself if you are ready to do something different in your life. Are you ready for change or maybe only ready for a small change? It’s always good to take some time to think about what you want to help improve yourself but not at the risk of it impacting your mental health. (It’s okay if you opt out of making New Year’s Resolutions- seriously, it’s okay!)
Try to remember the reasons you want to make changes in life. Putting pressure on yourself to change because “everyone else has a New Year’s Resolution” is not the strongest way to start things off. Making changes is possible any time of year. You can start by making a “wish list” for yourself. After taking some time to list some things you wish to change- choose one thing and create a small goal for yourself. Break it down into small parts that you can accomplish.
Creative Pathways- Rochester Art Therapy- is devoted to helping individuals face their struggles in a supportive and gentle way. If you are considering therapy options, Art Therapy may help you achieve your personal goals and develop in-depth solutions. If you would like to learn more, please contact us today to determine how we can help.
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Sheilagh is an Artist and Art Therapist who believes in healing with art and creativity.