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Goal-setting and the New Year: Turn Your Resolutions Into Effective Solutions

Updated: Dec 29, 2023

As we prepare to flip our calendars to a fresh month and a New Year, many of us are also thinking about personal change with a hope for new beginnings. December is a most unusual month full of activity, excitement, and anticipation. It boasts numerous holidays, opportunities for celebration, and deadlines to meet year-end plans. While the events keep us committed to acts of service and giving, oftentimes we find ourselves caught up in the midst of our dedication and our thoughts of wonder when we begin to consider our own needs. This article will give you some helpful insight on how you can turn your New Year's resolutions into effective solutions so you can reach your goals.



A notebook on a computer desk ready to write in New Year's Resolutions.
Making resolutions helps us to think about what's important and gives us hope for the future.


For years, New Year’s has been a source of inspiration and a perfect time to explore new possibilities. And why not? A new year means a new start, a chance to explore, and attempt new goals. Gyms, meal delivery services, and fitness retailers everywhere prepare each year for the surge of individuals that are ready to transform their lives and pursue their most desired dreams. But there’s a problem: personal needs have not yet been met. And within three months, roughly 80 percent of those most desired dreams will be put on hold.

 

Despite the low success rate of following through with New Year’s resolutions, they still provide excellent benefits. They not only inspire making a positive change, but they offer a great start in providing clarity for your goals. Making resolutions gives a chance to self-reflect and work towards personal growth. Here, we will explore some strategies that can help you turn your resolutions into a workable action plan so you can make lasting changes that align with your lifestyle.


 

Change is hard…

Let’s face it, when it comes to making lifestyle changes, change can be challenging! When switching up a routine and incorporating new skills, sticking with it all does not come naturally. We humans are comfortable with what we already know because it feels safer and it requires less mental effort. The trick to making a change is to change the way you think. These may include having:


  • The right resources

  • The right environment

  • The right supports

  • The right attitude

  • The right action


Change is unique to every individual and what’s right for one person might not be right for you.



What do you need?

One big part of making a change is preparing for what you need. To further explain, let’s look at the concept of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This pyramid structure was developed by Abraham Maslow in the early 1940s. He suggested that individuals must satisfy lower-level needs, or basic and psychological needs (like food, safety, and belongingness) before progressing to higher-level needs, or self-fulfillment needs (like creativity, morality, and passion).


Maslow discovered that individuals are more likely to successfully implement a change once their current needs have been satisfied. Let's take a closer look. Below are two different scenarios: 


A person with solid circles overhead depicting food, water, sleep, shelter, and health

Scenario 1:

This person desires to achieve and maintain a job that their heart has long desired. This individual would first require basic and some psychological needs, like food, water, sleep, shelter, and good health, if they wanted to stay in this job.



Shy woman thinking about friends
To successfully acquire a higher-level need, basic and psychological needs must first be met.


Scenario 2:

This person who has a great job, a comfortable home, and everything they need to live wants to be more active in social activities and make new friends. They've struggled with social anxiety and sometimes find it difficult to trust others. This individual must first learn how to form deep and meaningful connections if they want to thrive socially.  



 

Both of these scenarios show the difficulty in achieving a dream or a goal without fulfilling more fundamental needs first. With enough persistence though, one may be able to achieve their goal, but sustaining it long term would not be likely without having the skills and tools you need based on where you are at.


 

Ready or not, there’s a place you can start!

For many of us, whenever we need to make a quick decision, we use our judgement based on the information we have available at the time. Say, for example, you need to replace your toothpaste and the product your normally buy is not available. You need to brush your teeth, so you choose to make your next best choice. Quick and relatively easy, right?

 

However, when it comes to making a lifestyle change, like changing the way you eat to lose weight, decisions become a bit tougher. You might not know what to eat, how to cook, or where to shop. If you want to start this new diet change, you must first figure out where you need to start.

Man that is unsure and has questions

In the late 1970s, James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente developed a concept based on a smoking cessation study which helped them to create a model explaining the behaviors that motivated individuals to quit smoking. This concept was named The Transtheoretical Model of Change and is used today by behavior change experts. The model consists of 5 stages and 10 steps. These stages of change are:


Precontemplation: “I can’t.” “I would, but… Not now. I’m okay.

Contemplation: “I might.” “I will when…”

Preparation: “I’m willing.” “I’m ready.”

Action: “I am.” “I’ve started to…

Maintenance: “I still am.” “I have been.”


Can you relate to any of these stages?

Usually, what you say about your progress with something is more likely the stage you are in.


 

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

During the smoking cessation study that Prochaska and DiClemente carried out, they were able to determine helping steps that allowed their participants to move successfully move through each stage. The steps either require obtaining knowledge of some kind or taking an action. Although the steps may be used throughout any stage, Prochaska and DiClemente found that the earlier steps significantly benefited earlier stages of change and the later steps greatly contributed to the later stages of change. As change is a process and never a static state, stages and steps may ebb and flow, or they may regress.

Spiral line slowly moving forward
Change is a process and never a static state.

Here is a list of the 10 steps that have been proven to help guide you through a transformation:

1.      Becoming informed

2.      Noticing your effect on others

3.      Paying attention to your feelings

4.      Observing the public effort

5.      Creating a new self-image

6.      Maintaining willpower and commitment

7.      Seeking support

8.      Rewarding yourself

9.      Substituting unhealthy behavior

10.   Controlling your environment


If you can accomplish all of these steps, you will set yourself up for success no matter what you do. The hardest part is training your mind to think differently and figuring out a way to also enjoy the process. After all, how much fun would life be if you could do everything??


Trust me when I say that anything worthwhile will take time and practice.

 

If everything you’ve just read seems daunting, you are not alone! It takes YEARS for even psychologists and other behavior change specialists to apply these techniques comfortably with clients in their own practices. Change is hard for anyone. If it was easy, EVERYONE could reach their goals and without hesitation. As long as you know there’s more to reaching your goals than repetition and good old-fashioned willpower, then you have already laid important groundwork for a more productive journey.


Reaching your New Year’s resolutions is possible!!!


A man who achieved success and climbed to the top

By altering your way of thinking and switching up your routine, you can not only reach your goals, but maintain them long term. Finding what works for you will help you to move better along your path of wellness.




If you decide you would like help or support along your wellness path, a qualified health coach can certainly be your guide!





A gray envelope

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