Making unreachable and impossible New Year’s resolutions can have a negative effect on your mental health. But does that mean you should throw out the idea of resolutions altogether? Not necessarily! Creating goals for yourself can be a great way to move forward into the New Year with positivity and hope. Find out how to set goals that you can actually accomplish.
If you decide that you’ll never eat sugar again, or that this year you’re finally going to max out your retirement contribution for the year, even though you haven’t contributed anything at all so far, you might be creating too large and dramatic of a resolution for yourself. Instead, think about how you can move toward these goals in smaller increments. What about only eating dessert on weekends? Or starting off your retirement contribution with $50 a month? A little is better than nothing—and it can start you on the path toward getting closer and closer to those bigger goals.
If friends in your Facebook feed are making a pact to lose 50 pounds in the coming year, don’t feel like you have to participate. Take a step back from the peer pressure and think about what goals you truly believe could make a difference in your own life. If your resolutions are meaningful to you, you’re more likely to stick with them.
Try not to make goals like, “I will eat healthier this year.” That’s too vague! Instead, list out what exactly eating healthier would look like for you. Maybe it means replacing your breakfast pastry with a fruit smoothie a couple times a week, or including a vegetable with dinner each night. Whatever the goal, be as specific as possible. And place your list in a location where you’ll see it every day, so that you don’t forget your goals!
Too many resolutions can overwhelm you—especially on those days when busyness and stress become too much. You may have ten things you’d like to improve in the coming year, but by setting too many goals, you could end up not being able to reach any of them. Save some for another year.
Measuring your progress will help you see just how far you’ve come. That’ll feel great, and it will also encourage you to continue. Say, for example, you’d like to spend more time with your friends in the coming year. If you make a goal of meeting one friend for coffee or dinner each week (or maybe each month, depending on how busy you are), not only will you have a specific goal, you’ll also be able to track your progress. And over the course of the year, that would add up to 52 dates with friends, which will feel pretty great!
You’re more likely to keep working toward your goal if you have someone to support you—so enlist a friend or family member who can check in on you and help keep you on track. And offer to do the same for them in return. You’ll not only work harder toward your goal, you’ll also build a closer relationship with the person you’re regularly checking in with.
Keep in mind that slip-ups and failures are a normal part of the process. Goals usually involve creating new habits—and it takes some time before a habit becomes routine. Also, let’s face it, life is hard, and sometimes unexpected events get in the way. You may have to put your goal on hold to help a sick family member, take a work trip, or focus on any other variety of life experiences that pop up. Give yourself a break and get back on track with your goal when you’re able to.
Whatever your 2020 resolutions, keep in mind that the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Ashland County is here to support you and provide you with resources in the community throughout your mental health journey. Visit /resources-3 to browse our resources.