New Year, New Resolutions

We are now almost 10 days into the month of January. If you are like most Americans, you probably gave at least a passing thought to the idea of making some resolutions at the new year.therapy new year resolutions goal settingAs a therapist, I am very intrigued by the whole process of setting and following through on New Year's resolutions.  I found some interesting statistics on New Year's resolutions at statisticbrain.com as cited from the Journal of Clinical Psychology. They report that the top 5 resolutions are:

  1. Losing weight
  2. Getting organized
  3. Managing money better
  4. Enjoying life to the fullest
  5. Staying fit and healthy

Do any of these sound familiar?  Most therapists would agree that these are all really wonderful and positive goals.  Every single one is certainly a way to improve your life and general mental health on a regular basis.However, only a small percentage of people are generally successful at reaching their goals.  Why is that?  And how can we set ourselves up for success rather than failure?As I was thinking about this topic, several key strategies for improving your success came to mind:

  1. Make a goal that is specific and achievable.  Remember, if you don't make the goal, it's that much harder to reach it!  However, I think we often undermine our success by making goals that are too vague to reach or too difficult given where we are right now.  The goal needs to be clear and reasonable.
  2. Set the big picture goal and then put your main focus on the small steps you need to achieve to get there.  Smaller goals are often easier and less daunting to achieve while getting you incrementally closer to your main goal.
  3. Celebrate your successes along the way.  Noticing and rewarding yourself for your achievements helps keep you motivated to persevere when the going gets tough.
  4. Make yourself accountable.  Talk to someone about your goal or journal about it.  Find a therapist to help hold you accountable and to work through barriers to success.

So, 10 days later, where are you with your resolutions?  How can you get focused on being successful this year?