Successful Resolutions Sometimes Require Starts and Re-starts (and that’s okay)

By Terra Marzano, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Rinehart Clinic

Winter is here and 2020 is upon us. Having gotten through Thanksgiving, we are now inundated with gift guides, office parties, family gatherings and the inevitable subject of New Year’s Resolutions. For many of us, the concept of New Year’s Resolutions is uninspiring and can bring out a sense of failure from past resolutions. How do we turn this around? How can we use the calendar as a spark for growth and change? By shifting our perspective slightly, we can create a new plan for the coming year.

Set an intention for the year by focusing on a word or phrase that captures the spirit of the change you are pursuing. “Contentment” can be gentle a way to stay grounded in our spending habits, “Curiosity” can encourage us to be more exploratory about our world and the people around us, “Why Not?” can help us step out of our comfort zone and be open to new experiences.

Gather support by sharing your intention and goals with loved ones, friends, your therapist, or an on-line community. Does your resolution include more movement? Join a class at NCRD or the YMCA, meet a friend to walk the track, tell your spouse you’re going to walk the stairs at home a bit more for exercise, or ask someone to text you weekly to check-in. A bit of support goes a long way towards helping us all make lifestyle changes.

Start small with weekly, actionable goals in order to ensure your efforts are sustainable. If you intend to move more in 2020, start with 5-minutes of activity 2 times per week and see how that feels. As the weeks pass, you may feel strong enough to walk a bit further or add a stretching routine. The key is to break your goal into smaller, attainable steps.

If you intend to eliminate an unhealthy habit, such as nicotine use, add in a supportive habit. If, for example, your weekly goal is to cut-out a morning cigarette, add-in a different habit: drink a cup of herbal tea, take a brisk walk, spend 5 minutes writing a gratitude list, brush and floss your teeth, step outside to breathe fresh air.

There’s no reason to wait until January 1st to create change: you can start now! And just as you can start now, you can start and restart every day. Sustained change often requires starts and restarts, resetting our intentions and adjusting our action plans. We can restart every single day.
As we look ahead to the new year and 2020 resolutions, notice any unhelpful rigidity around your goals and see if you can soften your approach. Many of our habits have been in place for years and it will take time to create change that lasts. It can be helpful to explore your resolutions through writing and, as you do, see what themes emerge that can inspire your intention for the new year.
No matter what goals you set, and even if you have to start over a few times before you reach them, it’s that first step of wanting to make positive change that’s important, whether it’s a resolution for the New Year, or a change for the better any time throughout the year.
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