There’s a lot of excitement that comes with setting New Year’s resolutions. Taking a chance to improve certain aspects of our lives gives many people hope and motivation at the start of the year.
You’re probably familiar with the most common New Year’s resolutions:
- Get in shape
- Eat healthier
- Save more money
- Pick up a new hobby
- Find a significant other
- Quit smoking
- Be more active
- Read more
- Be tidier
- Be more organized
But all too often we lose hope and motivation. Whether it’s because we set unrealistic goals or put too much pressure on ourselves to succeed, it very quickly becomes difficult to stick with these resolutions.
This is why it’s important to incorporate self-compassion into your New Year’s resolutions. Being kind to yourself can go a long way when it comes to setting and achieving goals. Let’s discuss methods and examples of using self-compassion to reframe and stick to New Year’s resolutions while improving your health.
Be Positive When Setting Resolutions
When deciding what goals you want to set for yourself in the new year, how you frame them is important. Getting in shape, for example, is a resolution that often stems from a negative place. Many people who want to lose weight are motivated to do so out of shame or a feeling of not fitting in with societal norms.
But an example of a positive reason to get in shape is to be truly interested in improving your bodily health and wellness. If you are pursuing goals that were set with a negative mentality, you will have much more difficulty achieving them.
Wanting to change or improve an aspect of your life because that’s what you really want for yourself is an example of intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is a good thing to have because you know that what you are working to accomplish is something that will give you joy. Pursuing something out of fear, shame, or the intention of impressing others is not nearly as sustainable as pursuing something you know will truly enrich your life.
When setting resolutions, ask yourself if you’re doing it for you or for someone else. If you’re doing it for you, you set yourself up for success.
Set Realistic Goals
Being honest with yourself is a great step to take when deciding on a resolution. It’s tempting to set lofty goals, but we almost always end up putting too much pressure on ourselves to achieve them. Ironically, it’s that pressure that usually causes us to not keep our resolutions.
Don’t focus on completely changing your life within twelve months. You’ll put more stress on yourself with each day that passes. While it’s good to ambitiously improve certain aspects of your life, it’s important that you do it in a way that’s sustainable and not taxing to your mental health.
It’s best to start small and set attainable goals. If your goal is to get in shape or lose weight, don’t pressure yourself into losing all of the excess weight as soon as possible. Start with five pounds. If you reach your goal, set another goal for five more.
If you’re trying to eat healthier, don’t feel like you have to immediately deprive yourself of all the food you enjoy. Instead, treat yourself to one piece of chocolate instead of three. Becoming healthier is a gradual process, so the steps you take in your exercise and diet should be gradual as well.
Don’t Be Afraid of Mishaps
If you’re setting a new routine for yourself, whether it’s exercising and dieting, learning a new skill, or improving your financial situation, don’t expect things to always go according to plan. You might slip up, and that’s okay.
Many people who don’t stick to their resolutions give up after they make a mistake or lapse. If this happens to you, forgive yourself. Tell yourself that you are human, that it’s okay to mess up every once in a while, and that you can still pick up from where you left off. A few blunders in a year-long process will not set you as far back as you think.
Find a Support System
Self-compassion and a positive internal dialogue are key to setting and achieving resolutions for ourselves. A great way to influence and maintain a healthy mindset is to surround yourself with the right people.
A positive support system will give you advice, keep you accountable, and help you stay motivated. Whether it’s friends, family, or any like-minded people who recognize how important your goals are to you, their external support and encouragement will help you stay on track.
Opening up to the people you trust and letting them in is a valuable life skill in itself. Developing your sense of compassion for yourself and for others as you learn to rely on others’ kindness while they rely on yours will benefit your life immensely.
Being kind to yourself is among the healthiest decisions you can make, especially when setting New Year’s resolutions and challenging yourself. By practicing self-care and limiting negative thoughts, we reframe our New Year’s resolutions and accomplish the goals we set for ourselves.
Visit St. Luke’s Health’s Resolution Resources to find out how you can take steps toward wellness while taking it easy on yourself.
NBC News | 4 ways to re-frame your New Year's resolution so you actually succeed
Boston Magazine | How to Reframe Lofty Health and Fitness Resolutions for the New Year
Healthline | Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail
American Heart Association | Get Real About Getting Active