2022 has finally begun, and as always, the month of January is seeing people make their New Year’s resolutions. This practice is so ingrained in our culture that it can feel strange or abnormal not to make one, but while the concept of setting goals for self improvement is largely positive, making a New Year’s resolution can have some less than ideal effects on a person’s mental health. Many people struggle to recognize their own accomplishments and can feel like all their hard work was for nothing even when they’ve had great success. It’s also easy for a resolution to just fall through or not work out. Both of these situations can lead to feelings of low self-worth, increased anxiety or depression, or worsening bad habits. However, this doesn’t mean that you should never set a New Year’s resolution or a goal in general! There are plenty of healthy ways to set goals– either at New Years or any other time– that will help you to improve yourself and feel accomplished without negatively impacting your mental health.
You’re Making Vague Goals
When it comes to setting a healthy New Year’s resolution, specificity is your friend. If you give yourself a vague goal with no definitive version of success, you’re never going to feel that you’ve truly achieved what you wanted to, and this can lead to you feeling like a failure when you actually didn’t fail at all. For example, if your New Year’s resolution is just “lose weight,” and you don’t set a realistic benchmark for success, you’re never going to feel like you’ve really achieved anything. You might lose twenty pounds but think to yourself “I probably could have lost thirty,” and still not feel like it’s enough, even though in reality you made fantastic progress.
Try setting concrete goals for your resolutions this year. Not only will this make it easier for you to recognize when you’re succeeding, but it’ll make your resolutions more actionable as well. Having a goal like “hang out with my friends more often” is vague and difficult to carry out, but having a goal like “have game night with my friends at least twice a month” is much clearer.
You’re Making Goals with No Plan
All of the wishful thinking and manifesting in the world will not help you achieve your goals without any effort on your part. Making a resolution with no plan for how you’re going to stick to it is like trying to bake a cake with no recipe; it’s simply never going to turn out as good as it could be.
When you make your New Year’s resolutions this year, take a minute to think about how you’re going to achieve these goals. Write yourself up an action plan, if that helps you! Maybe your goal is to keep your home cleaner this year, so rather than buying a bunch of cleaning supplies and hoping for the best, make a plan to spend a few hours every Saturday morning running through a chore list, or set a regular dishwashing time every night after dinner so you can ensure the sink isn’t piling up. Deciding exactly how you’re going to get where you want to be is the best way to ensure your success!
You’re Not Rewarding Yourself
There’s no faster way to discourage yourself and end up falling off the wagon than to forget to celebrate your successes. If you never stop to appreciate what you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve come, you might end up feeling like you haven’t made any progress at all when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Take the time to reward yourself as you make progress towards your goals this year. Maybe when you run your fastest mile yet, you can set yourself up a weekend appointment to go to the spa, or when you read a benchmark amount of books from your To Be Read list, you can throw a movie night for your best friends and spend some time together to celebrate. Doing this will help you to appreciate your own hard work and recognize how well you’ve done!
You Don’t Have a Support System
External motivation to achieve a goal is a lot more important than most people think. Having a support system in place is a crucial part of setting New Year’s resolutions, especially big ones that will take a lot of work, and not having one can leave you feeling very lonely on the journey towards success.
When you set your New Year’s resolutions, tell a friend or family member about it that you know will be positive and supportive and help you work towards success. It will help to motivate you to know that you have someone to tell when you reach a milestone, and someone who will encourage you when you’re struggling. You can even set a goal together with a group of loved ones or set different goals that you intend to mutually support each other on. Having a system like this in place will make achieving your goals easier and more fun!
With these techniques under your belt, hopefully you will be able to avoid some of the mental health pitfalls that come with setting New Year’s resolutions and see more success in achieving your goals for 2022!