Forget your New Year resolution: why making one is not always a good thing

JOANNE Forristal, who runs Dovestone Coaching, looks at why setting a New Year’s resolution is not always a good thing.

Joanne Forristal

It may sound odd for a life coach to be telling you not to set a New Year’s resolution – but how many times have you set the same resolution only to give up and try again the following year?

For a lot people it’s a dismal time as the festivities are over and the words New Year’s resolution just conjures up images of deprivation.  

Why not choose a time that is good for you? Springtime works well for me as the weather is improving and you feel more energised to make a positive change. 

However, if you want to set your goal in the New Year here are some tips to help:

• Set your long-term goal.  This goal is normally something you will achieve in one to five years. Instead of calling it ‘My New Year’s Resolution’ try, ‘My Year Goal’ or ‘New Life Aim’ as changing the wording makes you feel more positive and motivated.  Think about what you really want to achieve. Make sure your goal is challenging enough as if it’s too easy you will feel bored and unfulfilled. 

• You may want to change lots of aspects of your life but many people don’t achieve their goals because they tackle too much at once. Set just one goal at a time as this prevents you from feeling overwhelmed and then giving up.

• Goals must be specific and measurable. Saying ‘I want to be more confident’ isn’t enough. Visualise your success – what are you doing, what will you have? Then set your goal to reflect this, for example: By March 1 I will know I am confident because I will have been on my first date.

• Reframe your Goal into a positive statement. When we say, ‘I want to lose weight and give up smoking’ our unconscious mind dwells on the negative words. Instead rephrase the goal positively, such as ‘It’s July 15, I am 11 stone, a non-smoker and feel fantastic!’ 

• Record your goal so you will see it several times a day as a constant reminder. Maybe write it down and attach it to your fridge or set up a reminder on your phone.

• Consider what has stopped you achieving this goal before. What went well the last time you tried or did something similar? What didn’t go so well? 

• Cut out negative people. If they can’t be avoided then keep your goal to yourself. Surround yourself with people who support and believe in you. If you don’t have anyone, then try online forums, support or networking groups.

When you have created a positive long term goal then use the steps above to break it down into a medium term goal (three-six months to complete), then a short term goal (one-two weeks).  

Reward yourself when you achieve these milestones. However, do not use a reward that sabotages your overall goal!

Remember a goal wouldn’t be worth having if it wasn’t hard to achieve.

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