A new you in 2022 - making New Year's Resolutions
Dr. Cheryl Fulton, associate professor in the Texas State University Department of Counseling, Leadership, Adult Education and School Psychology, said she doesn’t really make New Year’s resolutions these days. Then again, she has used the New Year to jump-start some health-related goals.
Fulton has tips on how to stick with resolutions throughout the year.
“If you fail every year, you are not alone. But you might be setting yourself up for failure. Ask yourself: Are your resolutions meaningful to you? Did you set realistic goals to support them? Did you enlist the right kinds of supports you need to do it? Who or what consistently gets in your way of making progress—and what do you need to do about that?” Fulton asked.
“If a resolution is a meaningful one to you and you fail to achieve it despite taking all the necessary steps to support it, remember that New Year’s is just a day. The start of the week, the start of the month, your birthday, a religious holiday, are all other opportunities to get the psychological boost you need to try again. As (motivational speaker and author) Earl Nightingale famously said, ‘success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal.’ Any day is a good day to pursue a worthy goal.”
As the calendar inches toward 2022 Fulton has some insight on making or not making New Year’s resolutions. One thing she talked about was the possible impact that the pandemic has had. “I wonder if fewer people made them last year because of COVID?” she asked. “It feels like maybe people have found it harder to plan.”
Many people are reevaluating their lives, she said, a lot of people are leaving jobs, getting better jobs, or just changing jobs. Fulton said that the pandemic has made people think about what matters most. The same thing happened after 9/11. The pandemic, Fulton said, has made people more aware of their own mortality and caused them to ask questions about how well they are living their lives. Are they drinking too much? Eating poorly? Overusing social media? Spending enough time with those they care about?
“A resolution is only as meaningful as the reflection that goes into setting it. Reflect on key areas of your life such as your health, relationships, work, spirituality, etc. Ask yourself how fulfilled you are in these areas. Spend some time thinking, writing, or discussing what you want to be different in these areas, and which one you feel most energized to address,” Fulton said. “It may also help to think about your most cherished values. Do your resolutions and goals align with what really matters to you?”
Fulton said that New Year’s is a fresh start, a hopeful moment where optimism and motivation are at a high. “This attitude will mobilize many people into achieving their goals. The challenge is that it doesn’t always last. In other words, they may keep their resolution for three or six months, but then as they say, old habits die hard,” she said. “Having an attitude of self-compassion is a good way to stay kind to yourself in the process. Self-compassion allows us to say ‘ouch, I really fell off my goal’ and ask ourselves ‘what do I need to do to show concern for myself?’ This soft approach may seem counter-intuitive to inspiring motivation, but it is more likely to do so than a self-punitive approach. Then you can dust yourself off and try again, even if it isn’t New Year’s.”
One thing is sure, Fulton said, is that people are more likely to focus on mental health issues. “We all make our individual resolutions but as a society it should be to look out for one another,” she said. “We need to reach out to others more.”