Is setting a New Year’s Resolution a recipe for disaster?

Mental Health

A: Not at all! You can make those resolutions happen….well, at least one or two of them.

TL; DR: Lots of people set goals (aka resolutions or intentions) around this time of year. When you set your goals, make sure you focus on the what, why, and how.

🫖 Tell me more.

Lots of us across the world set goals around this time of year. And for good reason. The 🎇 New Year 🎇 gives us the chance for a “fresh start.” Researchers use this description to talk about the effect of doing something new at specific times like the beginning of the week or a new season (Link here).

Not everyone will fail at setting goals. And not everyone will succeed either (In fact, most polls suggest that the majority of people will not meet their goals). But let us give you a bit of hope. A 2020 study of over 1000 people in Sweden, looked at how likely people who set goals were to keep them and what strategies worked best. To make it short, most people succeeded! And people did better when they had support. They also were more likely to continue to achieve their goal if it was framed in a positive light rather than a negative light.

🧩 So how do I really make this happen?

There are many ways to go about doing things, but research suggests a few key ideas.

👓 Focus on your why. This will keep you motivated when you don’t feel like doing something. For example, “I want to be more active so that I can keep up with my pets and grandchildren.”

📅 Be specific but not too specific. Making your goal more about a change rather than a specific will make it more likely for you to reach it. For example, you can say, “I want to spend more time with people I care about” rather than saying “I want to spend one night every week with Susana from high school.” Remember to limit your goals and choose no more than one to two to increase your chances of success.

🫶 Frame your goal in a positive way. Use positive language instead of negative language (Remember that Sweden study ⬆️ ⬆️ ⬆️). For example, someone might say “I will try to eat a fruit daily” instead of “I will never eat cookies again.”

👩‍👩‍👧‍👧 Get a buddy. We all do better with a buddy. Find an accountability buddy to help you check in about your goals and to help keep up the motivation.

⏲️ Check in at regular intervals. Set a concrete time frame such as every three months. If you aren’t where you want to be, try to figure out what could be different and make a plan for it.

⛅ Set the scene. Make sure you are in the right environment to keep your goals. For example, if you are surrounded by people who are not making the same choices that you want to make, you may need to spend time with others. You also may need to look at the challenges you have in your daily life that can prevent you from achieving your goals and make a plan to work around them.

🫶 Whether you have some goals to set or not, the New Year is always a good time to reset, to focus on what matters, and to start off on the right foot. From all of us Nerdy Girls and our families, wishing you and yours a peaceful, safe, and healthy 2023 to come.

Stay safe. Stay well.

Those Nerdy Girls

Additional links:

An Oldie but Goodie on Setting Purpose from Dr. Christine B. Whelan

BBC take on New Year’s Resolutions

TIME Suggestions on Maintaining Resolutions

Link to Original FB Post