Tuesday, December 22, 2009
New Year’s Resolutions: Smart or Silly Idea?
The quickest answer to this question: New Year’s Resolutions are only silly if you make them but later don’t keep them.
It’s probably not surprising that I, as a clinical psychologist, advocate regular goal-setting and maintaining a solution-focused approach to solving problems. Accordingly, I think it’s a great idea to make a few New Year’s Resolutions that are behaviorally oriented, specific, and easy to begin working towards right away.
One of my pet peeves is goal-setting that is vague and over-arching (e.g., “I want to be a better person”). Life is too short and we shouldn’t waste time by deluding ourselves that we can change the most fundamental aspects of who we are. Yet the reality is that there are many things we can change as long as we focus on what is most easily changeable: our behaviors.
Make two or three resolutions for the new year that are simple and specific, and mark the calendar with a few check-in dates to remind you to take inventory throughout the year of your progress towards your behavioral goals. Focus on resolutions that are realistic so that you don’t set yourself up to fail and feel even worse in the end. Bottom line: you can change but you must trudge through some uncomfortable feelings to truly make it happen.