Happy New Year everyone!  Do you feel you are surrounded with stories, suggestions, questions, and reminders about resolutions?  If your answer is “no”, I’ll admit, I am a bit jealous.  In the interest of full disclosure, I do not often set specific New Years Resolutions.  For me, January is about celebrating feeling refreshed (particularly after the holidays!), and the renewed sense of motivation and energy it often brings.  I love reflecting on the past year, the highs and lows, and then setting my hopes and intentions for the year ahead.

A few days into the new year, we start seeing news stories, articles, and some pretty spot-on memes about keeping, or breaking, your resolutions.  I’m not sure why, but the memes tend to be pretty relatable and low on the judgment scale, (think Grumpy Cat staring at the treadmill!), while the articles and news stories tend to have some judgmental undertones.  I came across one story recently, with a tagline that said something to the effect of “Why you aren’t losing and won’t lose any weight!” 

Jeesh.  Talk about making your reader feel terrible.

Look, the thing is, most people set resolutions with the hope of making change in an area of their life that they feel uncomfortable with on some level.  True, many people have a really difficult time keeping up with their resolutions, and often people don’t reach their goals.  (Don’t stop reading, I promise it will get more uplifting!)

If you are having a difficult time keeping up with your resolution, and you’re starting to feel a bit dejected, know that you are not alone.  There are so many people in your same boat.  It is normal.  There are many valid reasons you may be having a hard time right now.  In the therapy world, anytime someone sets a goal, and then has a hard time reaching that goal, we look for the constraints.  The constraints are the obstacles between you and your goal.  In order to reach the goal, we have to identify the constraints, and then make a plan.  Sometimes the best plan is finding a way through the constraints.  Sometimes, it’s finding away around the constraints.

Other times, it makes the most sense to accept the constraint as immovable, and focus instead on moving the goal itself.  (Any fellow Chicago Bears fans getting flashbacks to our last game?  I know we all would have liked to move the goal posts a little to the left…!) 

What does this mean?  Sometimes we set goals that are simply unrealistic.  No matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, we will never reach that goal.  This does not mean you have failed.  In these instances, the goal itself is the problem.  You are NOT the problem.

So what should you do?  Take a step back, reflect, and evaluate your resolution.  Be honest with yourself:  Is this a realistic resolution for you?  Did you set a resolution that, once you reach it, means everything will be “perfect”? Or, did you set a S.M.A.R.T resolution?  These are resolutions that are….

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable
  4. Realistic
  5. Time sensitive

Guess what – you reserve the right to change, edit, modify, and in anyway you wish, improve your resolution at any time!  Even if you and your friend/partner/coworker all made the same resolution, you can always edit it so that it’s more realistic for you.  Remember, as Oscar Wilde said,

“Be yourself.  Everyone else is already taken.”


Please note that this content is for informational purposes, and not a substitute for treatment.  If you are in need of mental health treatment, please seek out a provider in your area.

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