A New Take on New Year’s Resolutions: Your Best Year Yet!

Self-Care - Sanity & Self, Stress & Anxiety - Sanity & Self | 0 comments

A New Take on New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions for a New Year, Your BEST You.

You are probably familiar with the playful phrase, “New Year, New Me.” I myself used this phrase in the past but as I have done my own healing and growth, it no longer serves me or seems appropriate. When the New Year approaches, most of us start reflecting on the last 12 months….or even the last x number of years. We take an inventory of the “bad” and “good” that was experienced and start thinking about what we want to do differently or change in the coming year. We all set New Year’s resolution(s) with the hope of a fresh start and new beginnings.  Unfortunately, research and data continue to reveal that very few individuals follow through with and successfully “achieve” their New Year’s resolutions. A lot of this is related to extreme and unrealistic goals and expectations set for oneself, as well as the focus on changing oneself instead of growth and self-betterment.

In theory,  a New Year’s Resolution is the practice of setting intentions for the new year. It is a new commitment that we make to ourselves that involves action and finding more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. However,  New Year’s Resolutions have become the fast track to a  “New Year, New Me” vision.  Most resolutions tend to be centered around very specific goals and with much more focus on the outcome versus the experience and process. A lot of the time, there is some preoccupation with one’s physical appearance and being perceived as more desirable and attractive to others (weight loss, diet, beauty regimens). Other times it’s about achieving higher status (i.e. making more money, finding or pursuing a more prestigious job or career, finding a long term partner, or making a big purchase). So really, resolutions have become associated with what one is lacking. This sends us the message that we are not good enough as we are and that our happiness and self-worth are contingent on us meeting certain goals. And this often leads to feelings of disappointment, inadequacy and shame.

So how do you make a New Year’s resolution that is both successful and right for YOU? You need to approach your resolution with self-assurance and the understanding that you are not changing who you are but becoming the best version of yourself and creating more meaning in your life. You also need to come up with a reasonable and concrete plan so that your resolution feels both possible and achievable. Remember that change and personal growth take TIME. Developing new habits and lifestyle changes requires TIME. It’s a process that can’t be rushed and you need to give yourself room for the growing pains. There is ALWAYS going to be a learning curve, so remind yourself of that and treat yourself with kindness and self-compassion.

I broke down some tips for you below:

Pre-New Year’s Resolution Reflection:

  1. Reflect on your successes and strengths! It’s so easy to focus on the bad and what went wrong. But as you approach the new year, reflect on what went well this year and what you learned. What are some of the challenges you overcame? What are some of the skills you gained? Write these skills down, you can use them as you take on your new resolutions.
  2. What are your values? What’s important to you? Write them down
  3. Have you honored your values this past year? Are there values that you have been neglecting? Circle these values
  4. How can you incorporate one or more of these values in your everyday life?


Resolution Development and Planning:

  1. Make a concrete and realistic plan. Identify a SMART goal (Specific, Meaningful, Attainable  Realistic and Time-Bound). I will use the example of having a resolution “To exercise more.”
    1. Specific: Your goal should be specific and measurable so that you can track your progress and make adjustments as needed.
      1. Example: “I am going to exercise  at least 3 times a week”
    2. Meaningful:  Your goal should reflect your values and what is important to you. What may be important to some, may not be important to others.
      1. Example: “I want to feel healthier, improve my health and increase my physical strength
    3. Attainable: Set yourself up for success! What is realistic for you and your schedule? Make sure your goal is realistic and attainable.  If working out every day of the week sounds overwhelming, then it probably will be overwhelming.   If going to the gym isn’t feasible for your busy life, redefine what exercise means and will look like for you!
      1. Example: Exercise will be at least 30 minutes of  physical activity that increases my heart rate (trip to the gym, walk my dog, go on a hike)
    4. Relevant: Again, does your goal reflect YOUR values. Is it something YOU want to do and will make YOU feel more fulfilled? Is this resolution in line with your long term goals. Ask yourself, “why is this goal significant or relevant to me or my life?”
      1. Example: “Exercise will help my physical health, mental health and increase my confidence and self-esteem.”
    5. Time-Bound: Give yourself a goal date or create a realistic timeline. This will hold you accountable and keep you on track. If going to the gym at least 3 times a week seems too much for you right now, work up to it! Start small and gradually increase the frequency. Again, this is about setting yourself up for success and giving yourself time.
      1. Example: “I’ll start with exercising two days a week in January and then go to three days a week in February,” or “I will exercise three times a week for 2 months and then reassess my progress and make changes if need”

Resolution Maintenance:

  1. Be patient and flexible. Again, change is SO HARD.  Habits are EXTREMELY hard to break–even when they are “bad” and you are highly motivated.” Humans are creatures of habit and a lot of our daily routine is muscle memory. So it is so important for you to be patient and flexible. Cut yourself some slack if you are having a hard time and make changes or adjustments to your plan if you need to! That doesn’t mean you “failed,” it means you are learning and figuring out what works for you.
  2. Be nice to yourself. Give yourself more pep-talks!  Negative self-talk, although automatic for a lot of (or most) women, can be extremely damaging to your self-esteem and confidence. You are human and imperfect.  If you find yourself questioning your ability to achieve your resolutions and goals, remind yourself that change is hard but you have already overcome and conquered so much in your life. Continue to persevere and remind yourself, “I got this.”
  3. Find a friend that can encourage you and hold you accountable! You don’t have to do this alone. Lean on your support system, that’s why they are there!

Enjoy the process! While it is important for us to set goals and challenge ourselves, it is also just as important to stay present and embrace the journey. Reflect on what you learn, your strengths, acknowledge and celebrate your milestones and (even the smallest) successes.

Download Leah’s New Year’s Goals Worksheet

Want to hear more about resolutions for the New Year? Listen to Airial Clark’s F#ck Resolutions, Embrace Evolution in the Sanity & Self App, get a sneak peek below.

About the Author

Leah Aguirre is a licensed clinical social worker & psychotherapist in San Diego, CA. Leah prioritizes mental health issues because she’s experienced issues with anxiety herself and believes every woman will face their own struggles with mental health at some point in their life. She specializes in helping individuals who experience challenges with relationships, dating and self-esteem through both individual and group sessions. Visit Leah online at https://leahaguirrelcsw.com/

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