Mimi Fayer, LMFT
New Year, New You
Many of us have been there, the last day of the year or the first day of the New Year, we make resolutions. Something about the beginning of a year, a fresh start, compels us to make some changes to things we see necessary for our lives. There is a great deal of motivation wrapped up with a sense of hope for those changes to make things better. But why, why does the motivation go away so fast, and why do we turn back a month or so from now and realize we have failed to realize our goals?
That's the thing, when we are excited and motivated, we come up with many things we want to achieve - you know, that long list of resolutions we often see people make? The problem is we forget to think about the reality of its implementation. Take the perpetual top hit New Year resolution: to lose weight. I can tell you from personal experience and from experiences of others that more often than not, people fail to obtain this goal just days after the New Year began. Why is it then do we fail so soon?
Quite simply, it is because we make goals that are NOT specific and attainable enough. We say we want to lose weight, but how? What will let us know when we have achieve that goal? Moreover, how are we going to achieve that goal? Instead, we should set goals such as to exercise at least 30 minutes a day or take a walk around my neighborhood for at least 15 minutes each day. These are not only specific and clear, but they also are attainable - something that can be done in a short run with possibility of revisions in the future once the goals are achieved (e.g. increasing the walking time to 30 minutes). When we set unspecific and unrealistic goals, we cannot keep ourselves accountable to those goals and we have set ourselves up for failure before we even start. I've heard people set goals such as "I am going to lose 15 pounds in a month". While that can be attainable (if you go on a crash diet, starve yourself, and etc.), it is usually something that will not last for a long period of time nor is it life changing. Most people will start to drop weight quickly and plateau soon after and they will lose that motivation to keep with the diet. This is to say, setting specific and realistic goals will keep you motivated as you can receive short term gratification through realizing your short term goals while benefiting from long term gratification through achieving the change you want to see. All the while, you also receive positive reinforcements for your accomplishments which keeps you motivated further.
So, this New Year, go back and take a look at your resolutions if you have some. If they are not specific or realistic enough, revise them. Don't forget that you also do not want to set too many goals at the same time. It takes a lot of motivation and energy to realize one goal so it is best to make that goal a reality than try to do too many at the same time and fail to achieve all of them. What are some goals that you have for this New Year?
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