New Year’s Resolutions

According to a study conducted by Forbes Health where 1000 people were asked to respond on their New Year’s Resolution behaviour, 62% of respondents felt pressured to make a resolution in the first place.  80% of participants reported they felt confident in being able to achieve their set goals.  However only 1% of respondents stuck with their goals 12 months later, with the majority falling off the wagon within 4 months from the onset.

There are many reasons why New Year’s resolutions don’t stick.  Often New Year’s resolutions are unrealistic, i.e. “I’m going to lose 20 kilos by April 30th”, or not well planned, i.e. January 1 is not really a great day to start a new diet if you’re hung over and the fridge is packed full of Christmas leftovers.

While we can’t guarantee you’ll be able to transform your life within the first few weeks of January 2024, we can offer some tried and true ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) suggestions that might help you get some clarity around what you want and how to achieve it.

Dr Russ Harris is an ACT therapist well-known for his ongoing passionate advocacy, education and writings about goal setting from a compassion-based approach.  There’s a whole bunch of work sheets you can access here The Happiness Trap  which will help if you are a pen and paper type of person. 

Here are some simple steps to goal setting:

Work out what you want.

This sounds simple but for some it might be harder than you think.  Sometimes the easiest way to learn about what you want is to list what you don’t want and then flip it.  For example:  “I don’t want to be overweight anymore”, becomes, “I want to be thinner.”  Your goal becomes ‘I want to lose XXX kilo’s. 

Be realistic. 

It’s totally ok to want to travel to Barbados next month, but if you don’t have the money or leave entitlement time available for months, then it’s not probably unlikely to happen then.

Be flexible:

It’s ok to pivot if things change.  If you’re goal is to save for a house and you think it would be better to invest in shares for now, then that’s ok too.  Life is predictably unpredictable.

Above all, at this time of year especially, be kind and go gently with yourself.  Self-compassion is a key ingredient for growth and change.  When things don’t go as planned or hoped and goals aren’t realised in the way you thought they should be, remember it’s human to falter and it’s ok to have feelings about that. When you’re ready try again.

The world has changed in the last few years and there’s a lot of uncertainty about.  Values, ideas, plans, goals, hopes and dreams have changed significantly for a lot of people and it’s ok if you’re having trouble keeping up.

Melissa Collins
Provisional Psychologist
Felix and Sage Psychology

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