Author: Joe Kort, PhD, LMSW
New Year's resolution season, for many of us, already may be a lost cause, you're thinking.
Approximately 92 percent of Americans throw in the towel on our resolutions by the middle of January, and return to our old ways of living once again.
Why do we fail and how can we come up with a plan not to fail?
Most resolutions aren't about what we want to do, but what we think we should do. Ask yourself, "do the goals I set reflect my inner self and my personal aspirations, or are they ones I think other people expect of me?"
In many instances, we set ourselves up for failure simply by choosing the wrong resolutions.
Did you decide to lose weight because your doctor told you to?
Are you looking for a new job because your spouse feels it's time for a change?
Are you going to start decluttering the house because your family has been nagging you about it?
These are extrinsic goals - ones you chose because they were expected of you.
Step one in succeeding with your resolutions is to find ones you personally want for you.
Step two is to start small. Think about what you want to accomplish over the next year, and break that resolution into small, achievable, short-term goals.
For example, if you choose to live a happier and more loving life, begin the journey by doing one thing each day that brings you happiness. It can be as simple as treating yourself to a specialty drink at your favorite coffee shop, or smiling and saying hello to a stranger.
Instead of rushing to accomplish all of your resolutions at once, take one day at a time, and one resolution at a time. If you don't succeed today, there's always tomorrow to try again.
Remove all of that pressure on you to expect huge results right away.
It's not too late to start your resolutions today when you wake up, or tomorrow at noon, or next month. Just start them, focus on the present moment, be patient and forgiving with yourself, and give yourself plenty of time to make change happen.
This is the beginning of a new journey in your life, and enjoy the road as you travel it and celebrate your progress along the way.
Here are some additional tips to help keep you on track for the long-term:
Choose achievable resolutions
If your goal, for example, is to use your gym membership regularly, start by working out twice a week. Once two days a week becomes your new routine, add a third day. Before you know it, you will be a gym regular.
Choose one change at a time
If your list of resolutions is longer than your grocery list, you already have set yourself up for failure. Choose one resolution you think will be the easiest to achieve and focus on that one only. Once you've mastered it, move on to another easy one. Before you know it, your list has dwindled in size.
Lifestyle changes don't happen overnight. Anticipate setbacks and stumbles along the way. It is important to get up when you slip up and keep moving forward. Don’t turn relapses or temporary failures into total meltdowns or excuses for giving up. Instead, just acknowledge your minor detour and find the road again. It's not perfection, it's progress. And give yourself a pat on the back for every single positive stride.
Be prepared to change course
If Plan A is not working out, adjust it or make Plan B. Flexibility is a key to success.
Write it on your schedule
If your goal is to declutter, add specific declutter time to your weekly schedule and stick to it.
Stop the “all or nothing” thinking
So what if you ate a donut for breakfast? You will get back on track at your next meal. Any effort toward your goal is better than no effort.
Ask for help
Tell your family and friends what you want to accomplish and ask them to help you and support you.
If you feel overwhelmed and unable to achieve your goals on your own, you may want to seek professional help. The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health has a team of therapists who can help you. Simply call 248.399.7447 or visit the center's website at crsh.com to schedule an appointment with one of the therapists.
Joe Kort, PhD, LMSW, is the founding director of The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health. He has been in practice for more than 30 years. He also is a certified Imago Relationship therapist, a modality designed for couples to enhance their relationship, and for singles to learn relationship skills. He specializes in sexual health therapy, including dysfunctions, out-of-control sexual behavior and sexual identity issues.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Kort, please call the center at 248.399.7447.
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