New Year New You

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions each year, and many of us fail. We know that setting goals helps us to achieve more in the future. So why do so many of our goals, especially our New Year’s resolutions, fail? What can we do to improve our chances of succeeding?

#1: Thinking About the Why

When you decide you want to change an aspect of your life, it is important to consider why. What makes this change so important? How will it positively affect you? How would it negatively affect you if you continued through life without the change? Writing down these factors will help secure in your mind the importance of this change, which can help to keep you motivated as you work to implement it. Reviewing some possible barriers to your goals, and what to do to overcome them, will also increase your chance of success.

#2: Setting SMART Goals

The SMART goal setting concept has been prevalent in US business culture for decades. SMART goal setting provides a roadmap for success by breaking down vague goals into specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound objectives. Let’s delve into each component:

  • Specific: Clearly define your goal. Instead of “start exercising,” specify “walk 30 minutes once per week.”
  • Measurable: Establish criteria to track your progress. For instance, if your goal is to have a healthier diet, set a measurable target like “replace fast food with a salad twice a week for lunch.”
  • Attainable: Ensure your goal is realistic and within your current ability initially. Gradually increase the difficulty as you make progress. Instead of “clean and organize my entire house”, start with “clean one bathroom this week”, and progress your goals over time.
  • Relevant: Align your goals with your values and objectives. If mental health is a priority, focus on goals that contribute to your well-being, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, socializing with friends and family, and mindfulness.
  • Time-Bound: Set a specific timing for achieving your goal. This adds a sense of urgency and helps with planning. For example, “quit smoking entirely before my wife’s due date in June”.

#3: Goal Setting When Motivation is a Struggle

New Year’s resolutions may sound like a luxury for those who struggle with depression, ADHD, grief, or other mental health conditions that render motivation lacking. What about goal setting in order to keep afloat in life? Many of the SMART principles above can be used, with an emphasis on ATTAINABLE. Start by using an electronic or paper calendar and write down one important thing to do next week. If doing the dishes or laundry feels overwhelming, what about taking a short walk, or simply sitting outside to watch the sunset one evening? Set a goal initially that is something you are very likely to accomplish. Once you have achieved your goal, take pride in that you are making progress toward a healthier you, and try not to worry about the other overwhelming tasks that are still on your to-do list. If those tasks have been waiting months to years already, chances are they can wait a few more weeks or months until you are more caught up with life. After you have succeeded in your goal for 3-4 weeks, try increasing the goal to something a bit more challenging. Remember that setbacks happen to everyone, and remember the successes that you’ve already achieved when this occurs.

Here at Psyche, our resolution is to start posting about relevant topics in psychiatry. Our “why” is to share helpful information with our patients and followers that could improve their mental health. Our goal is to post monthly about important topics backed up by current psychiatric evidence.

Cheers to you in reading this entire article. We hope that it will help you take a step forward in your own mental health journey. As always, if there is anything we can do to help you reach your mental health goals – combat depression, improve ADHD symptoms, reduce alcohol or drug use – feel free to reach out to us here at Psyche. We wish you all success and elevated mental health in 2024!

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