New Year’s Resolutions

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It’s that time of year again! Time to set some goals and come up with some new year’s resolutions for the upcoming year. It is common in my practice to assist patients in setting goals for themselves. It can be a very helpful tool for making positive changes in your life and improving in areas you are wanting to work on. There are a few things you need to keep in mind when setting goals:

● Goals should be challenging but realistic- If a goal is not challenging enough, you will not feel a sense of accomplishment when you achieve the goal. On the opposite, if a goal is too difficult or impossible to achieve, then you may feel hopeless and less confident about yourself which are ways you do not want to feel when trying to meet your goals and make progress

● You need to set BOTH short- and long-term goals. Oftentimes, achieving short-term goals will lead to you achieving long-term goals but not always. Also, setting goals that are too far in the future makes it less likely that you will achieve them. It is important to set smaller, short-term goals so you can see the progress that you are making even if it is small. Making little changes adds up to big changes and is something you can feel good about! We are also more likely to stick with short-term goals than long-term goals and many people do not follow through in the long term so you need to have short-term goals.

● Goals should be specific. If a goal is not specific enough it is less likely that you will achieve it.

● Reward yourself when you meet your goal. Positive reinforcement (or reward) is important to keep you motivated to continue to work on your goals.

● Speaking of motivation, the more motivated you are, the more likely you are to achieve your goals. If you are not very motivated, it is much less likely that you will achieve your goals and potentially never set goals again because you feel as though you will never meet them. You cannot expect to achieve a goal successfully if you are not motivated.

● It is important that when you achieve a goal, you set a new one. Personal growth helps to build self-confidence and self-esteem which are important to feeling good about yourself

● It may help to have an accountability partner. Either you are working towards the same goal, or you both have different goals that you are working towards. We sometimes tend to give ourselves a pass or make irrational excuses as to why we are not working to achieve our goals. An accountability partner can decrease the likelihood of that happening. We are more likely to do something if we are aware that someone knows what we are doing because we do not want to let them down.

● Write down your goals in a place where you will see them multiple times a day. The more we see what goals we are trying to achieve, the more likely we are to be working on them. Life can get busy and we can forget changes that we are trying to make (especially since making changes is hard) but if you are constantly reminded of them, the more motivated you will be to achieve those goals.

● Do not be too hard on yourself if you do not achieve a goal that you have set for yourself. We ALL do not meet our expectations at times and that’s OK. If you get down on yourself, you may not try again but if you can simply modify the goal or set another goal, it will not significantly decrease your self-confidence and self-esteem and you will continue to work to achieve your goals

● Positive self-talk helps to build self-confidence and self-esteem, so it is important that we are aware of our internal dialogue and make sure that we are having encouraging/positive thoughts and not discouraging/negative thoughts. It may help to write your thoughts down so you are more aware of them and what changes you may need to make to your thoughts.

We are all capable of achieving goals so start today by creating some for yourself and begin working on them. You will probably be surprised at how much you can achieve but you will never know if you never try!

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Kimberly Wagner, Psy.D. PSY 25460
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