‘I was ridiculed for making New Year’s resolutions’

From moving past anxiety about setting yearly goals to other vexing issues of a personal nature, reader questions are answered by clinical psychologist Jo Lamble.

Reader question:

At a New Year’s Eve party, I was talking to someone about my New Year’s resolutions and she seemed surprised – to the point where I felt ridiculed. She told me goals shouldn’t be pegged to the new year. But I like the idea of “new year, new you” and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Is there?

Jo’s answer:

I hate the idea of you being ridiculed, especially for wanting to make some positive changes in your life. However, I do have a general problem with New Year’s resolutions, but not for the same reasons she gave you.

For me, the issue is that many resolutions are based on wishful thinking – usually huge goals with not much of a plan behind them. Think: losing weight, giving up alcohol, stopping smoking, getting fit, getting a new job or making more of an effort with friendships. All worthy intentions. But the reason why these resolutions often fail is because they’re just that: intentions. They’re announcements we make to ourselves or to others.

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If you really want to lose weight, give up alcohol or cigarettes, get fit or get a new job, you’ll need a plan, which should be made up of small achievable steps and a realistic time frame. So if you’re deciding to be more positive or less judgemental, for example, what does that look like? How are you going to work on that on a daily basis? How will you measure success?

Enlist the support of those around you. Celebrate small wins and remember that when we decide to change unhealthy behaviour, setbacks are common and it can often take multiple attempts. Discovering what triggers those setbacks and refraining from beating yourself up when they happen will help get you back on course.

Got an issue for Jo to tackle? Send your question to feedback@bodyandsoul.com.au