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Counseling Corner: Repeat resolutions
by Jennifer Pierce, LCPC
Licensed Professional Counselor
Bi-weekly Contributing Writer
What will be your New Year's resolutions this year? Will you try to exercise more, spend less, or focus on family more? All of those are great ideas, but haven't you made those resolutions before? How many years have you said your New Year's resolution would be to lose weight, only to give up the diet before Valentine's Day? We have good intentions, but somehow it never seems to pan out.
Frankly, I think the whole idea of New Year's resolutions is ridiculous. If I want to change something about myself, then I should work on it now and not wait for some holiday to get started. Furthermore, I think most of us make these resolutions half-heartedly. We say we will try to lose weight, but we don't have a real plan on how to lose the weight and probably won't put a lot of effort into it. But if you insist on making a resolution, then I have some suggestions that may help you stick to it this year.
Despite my disapproval, there are two qualities of New Year's resolutions that I do like. First, in choosing a resolution, you are practicing self-reflection. Self-reflection is a wonderful and essential part of self-growth that, unfortunately, most of us don't have the time to do. Of course, we must reflect on our lives; our strengths and weaknesses, before we can even begin to change these things. I didn't even realize how much soda I was drinking every day until I really stopped to think about it. Certainly, I wasn't going to cut back on the soda when I didn't even know it was a problem! If we ever want to grow and change, then we must take time to think about what we want to change and how we will grow. Although we should probably do this far more often, New Years is at least one time a year that we can practice self-reflection.
The second part of New Year's resolutions that I like is making a plan for change. Although many of us simply say we will make this change and never even try, others really plan for how they will stick to their new resolutions. Planning is essential for lasting change. Why have you not made this change sooner? You may lack skills, money, or supplies, but you probably have also had a lack of motivation to change. Setting a goal (like making a resolution) automatically raises your motivation. You don't want to fail! We can increase your motivation even further by adding a deadline, setting mini-goals, or giving yourself rewards.
All of these things will encourage you to stick to your resolution, but to really make this change long-lasting you need to also consider what challenges you may face. For example, I don't have a problem sticking to a diet with lots of vegetables, but my sweet tooth always gets me into trouble. You have probably made this same New Year's resolution in years past. So what went wrong last time? How can you overcome that obstacle this time? Since I know I have a sweet tooth, I need to choose a diet that allows me to have desert. If I ignore this weakness or just try to fight it with willpower, then I will probably cheat on my diet and have failed my New Year's resolution. A better idea is to admit your weaknesses and plan accordingly. If you follow these suggestions, then you should have at least a fighting chance of sticking to your New Year's resolution this year. Good luck!
Jennifer Pierce, LCPC is the owner and primary therapist of Hagerstown Counseling, LLC. She can be contacted at 240-347-4845 or by visiting her website at: www.HagerstownCounselingLLC.com.