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A New Strategy For New Year Resolutions

Happy 2019!  As the excitement and anticipation of the holiday season transitions to the beginning of a new year, it is easy to fall into the trap of setting new year resolutions with the same strategies that were employed in 2018 (and 2017, 2016……).  No one enjoys looking back on their resolutions on February 1st to see that they already are a distant memory.  Let’s rethink setting resolutions to make them achievable, effective and productive…..

goals photoFirst, begin with a brief accomplishment inventory.  What is better in your life this January than last?  These don’t need to be completely life changing accomplishments.  Maybe you deepened an important relationship or found a new route to work that cut 6 minutes off of your commute each way (which would provide you with an entire 50 hours more time not sitting in traffic each year – no small accomplishment at all!).  Be kind to yourself and collect as many credit-bearing changes as possible.

Second, let’s show some gratitude for all of our accomplishments.  Change is hard!  Opportunities to improve our life or the lives of others are important!  Let’s show some gratitude toward ourselves and the other people that were involved in the accomplishment inventory.  Gratitude has a profound impact on our attitude toward ourselves, others and can help create a more compassionate view of our world.  Folks who practice gratitude will interpret neutral events more positively and have a greater ability to bounce back from disappointment.  This seems like a skippable step, but can really assist in opening our awareness as we hit step three……happy photo


Third, actually set your resolutions!  By sitting down and making goal setting an important task, committing affirmations/resolutions to paper and sharing them with others, it will deepen our ability to make them meaningful and help create more follow through.  It can also be helpful to think of them as personal affirmations or goals rather than resolutions.  The former implies ideas and changes that have a beginning, middle and end with reasonable strategies for setting and follow through while the latter often can become inflated into unachievable, lifestyle altering, lifelong tasks that are so big that they become easy to cast aside at first lapse.

Finally, cheat.  Start by cheating off of other people’s ideas (see below) to generate affirmations and goals that are different than your resolutions.  Sometimes our own thoughts around change can become narrow and stale whereas others may provide new thoughts that could be positively incorporated into our own goals.  Second, continue cheating.  When our affirmations or goals ‘fail’, recommit to begin again.  Be as kind and compassionate in your own lapse as you would for a close friend or family member and be forgiving and encouraging to get back up after a lapse and restart those affirmations and goals again.

Looking for new ideas to bolster your new year resolutions, affirmations and goals?  Here’s a quick infographic that can be downloaded and shared…..

A New Strategy For New Year Resolutions

Jim Holsomback

Jim Holsomback (MA; ABT) is the director of clinical outreach for McLean Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts and program director for Triad Adolescent Services, located in Lexington, Massachusetts. He has more than 20 years of experience working with adolescents and families struggling with anxiety, depression, substance use disorders and self-injury. Jim has a vast amount of experience teaching and supporting families struggling to identify ways to establish effective family systems as well as presenting in regional and national trainings and conferences on topics such as contingency management, digital and substance dependence and supporting parents of preteens and adolescents struggling with self-harm & suicidality.

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APA Reference
, . (2019). A New Strategy For New Year Resolutions. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 9, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Jan 2019
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