Reframing New Year’s Resolutions

Counseling services: Individual, Couples, Family, Marriage, Group Counseling

What is it about the start of a new year? Whatever we’ve done or been in the past, we tell ourselves that THIS is our chance for a fresh start. We can put our mistakes and weaknesses behind us and start our new life if only we can stick to these resolutions… right?

But the truth is, most people don’t stick to their resolutions. Which begs the question, are we setting ourselves up for failure? If so, how can we free ourselves from this vicious cycle of self-improvement and shame? Here are some thought starters for how to reframe your 2022 resolutions to support more holistic, lasting change:

Question. While a desire for change and personal growth is a positive thing. It’s important to ask yourself what is really motivating these desired changes. Are these things you really want for yourself or reflections of what society is telling you that you should want? Will losing weight or being more productive really make your life better? For some people, the answer might be yes. But too often we glom onto these superficial goals because they offer us the illusion of control and comply with social norms.

Reframe. Focusing on all the negative things about yourself and your life that need fixing can keep you from appreciating all the good stuff. Research has shown that our perception of something grows or shrinks based on how much attention we give it. The more we pause to appreciate what we have, the more we feel that we have. Gratitude creates a sense of abundance. With this in mind, rather than working up a list based on what you don’t have or don’t like about yourself, try making resolutions more generative. Resolve to keep a gratitude journal, give yourself a daily affirmation or spend more time outdoors.

Stay Flexible. Designating New Years as the start date for a resolution suggests that your window for change is limited to just once a year. This creates a scarcity mindset which inhibits our ability to think clearly and act with intention. In reality, meaningful change can begin at any time and it is rarely linear. Succumbing to temptation in a moment of weakness does not mean you failed, and it need not set you back an entire year.

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Written by Rebecca Morehiser, MSW-I