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New Year, Same Me

Post written by Nakeisha Little

Creating resolutions is part of many people’s New Year’s traditions. Come January, you see “new year, new me” littered across social media. People make goals of weight loss, saving money, getting promotions, or traveling. While making resolutions isn’t necessarily a bad thing, they can often lead to negative feelings of self-worth. For those who live with mental illness, it’s easy to spiral when the negative feelings begin. Many resolutions get abandoned or forgotten, whether it’s because they are too difficult to achieve, not compatible with a person’s lifestyle, or too broad that one doesn’t know where to begin. At the end of the year, people reflect on the resolutions they made and vow to do better the next year. Resolutions can be an awful cycle. The world is uncertain and as humans, we are ever changing. The goals you make at the beginning of the year may not be compatible with where you end the year. Here are some tips for making New Year’s resolutions work for you:

  • Replace resolutions with SMART goals.
    • Do plans help you stay on track? A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. The major difference between a resolution and a SMART goal is that is a plan, rather than a statement. For example, a resolution would be “I want to run a marathon”. A SMART goal would include making a detailed plan for how you plan to run a marathon. You would have a time-frame of when you hope to achieve it, and it would be realistic. Perhaps your SMART goal would begin with running a 5k, then a half-marathon. SMART goals can be easier to stick to because there aren’t unrealistic.
  • Reframe resolutions.
    • It may seem contradictory from the above technique, but different things work for different people. Setting goals with concrete numbers may feel overwhelming, especially those prone tp obsessive behavior, and that’s OK. Something I have found that helps me is setting up a chart that has a side that says “more of” and another side that says “less of”. Rather than saying, “I am going to read 52 books this year”, I put that I want to read more. Instead of “I am going to stop getting takeout”, I reframe it as “I am going to order less takeout”. If you are a visual type, you can track the amount you do these things in a journal or use a habit tracking app.
  • Understand the resolutions you want to make.
    • When you go to write down what you want to achieve in the coming year, consider why these are your goals. Are these things you want to achieve or is it something you feel like you have to do? When your goals are centered on your true-self, they can be easier to achieve. Your goals don’t need to look like everyone else’s. Focus on what you need and what works for you.
  • Know when it’s time to pause or stop on a goal.
    • I’m familiar with depression and it’s friend lack of motivation. Sometimes, I see my goals and they are the last thing I want to do. I’m here to tell you — it’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to sit down and realize that the goal you set is no longer compatible with where you are. If you are depressed and can’t get out of bed, trying to run a marathon is not going to happy. Instead, try to make yourself attainable goals that work with where you are. For example, you could start with “today, I am going to go outside of five minutes” and do that until you feel ready to do the next step, which could be “today, I am going to take a 10-minute walk”.

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