As the year winds down, creating New Year’s resolutions can often be clouded with the stress of all-or-nothing thinking. If you have ever experienced a failed resolution, you know that it is a miracle if the resolution makes it past March or even January. Unfortunately, instead of picking back up in June, we tend to give up completely. This closely intertwines resolutions with perfectionism, which is unattainable for anyone.
So how can we plan for a new year with less stress?
It’s important to remember that the New Year doesn’t necessarily have to mean an entirely new you. “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for,” says psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD. As you reflect on this past year, take the following into consideration.
Identify your values
The first step in preparing for your goals is making sure they are uniquely yours. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by societal pressures or others’ opinions when thinking about what to work towards. Knowing your values will keep you grounded and lead you to the areas you genuinely want growth and improvement. To get some ideas flowing, ask yourself these questions:
- What did I do well in 2021 that I would like to do even better in 2022?
- What would I like to do more of?
- Why is making a new year’s goal important to me?
Pick a SMART goal
After considering your personal values, make your goals SMART-specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. If one of your values lies in health and wellness, a SMART goal could look like this: do 20 minutes of yoga (specific, measurable) before or after work (achievable, relevant) 5 days a week (time-bound). By having a plan, this increases the likelihood of you achieving your goals.
Throughout this process, keep in mind that it is difficult to change habits. It’s even more difficult to make those changes without any mistakes along the way. Remember to have patience in the process of changing your behaviors and try again if things don’t go as planned the first, second, (or even third) time. Celebrate the small and big victories along the way.
About the Author: Rudairo Segbeaya is a Behavior Therapist and Pacific CBT’s Office Manager. Rudairo received her Master’s degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis from Arizona State University.