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Creating Change in your Life

Shifting New Year's Resolutions

It’s that time of year again. January 1st, 2022 is right around the corner, and you know what that means… resolution time. Have you struggled with feeling a sense of obligation to set New Year's resolutions? Questioned how you will keep the resolution you set for yourself? We’ve all been there, myself included. It’s easy to focus the blame on ourselves; “I wasn’t motivated enough, I didn’t try hard enough, or I picked a bad resolution.” In reality, the reason resolutions are so hard to keep is simple. Change is hard.

Here are a few approaches to change that can make it even more challenging. Check in with yourself throughout to see if any apply to you.

1) Changing too many things at once.

Plain and simple, trying to change too many variables at once can leave you feeling confused, overwhelmed, and defeated. Pick one thing you wish to create change with and start there.

2) The thing you wish to change is either too broad or too vague.

The more specific and measurable your goal is, the better it sets you up to create change. For example: Instead of “I want to be healthier,” shift to “I will walk for 15 minutes 3 times per week. Instead of “I want to be a better partner,” shift to “ I will leave my phone upstairs when we are eating dinner.”

3) Jumping ship too early.

It’s very normal to feel defeated if you don’t see results quickly (ie. get that instant gratification). Think of change as a saw-tooth pattern instead of a straight upward trajectory. Small steps rather than a large leap. Progress not perfection. Remember it’s inevitable that you might get off track when working to create change.  Yet, what matters most is that you choose to keep trying.

new year's resolutions

4)  Trying to change someone else.

We cannot control how someone else thinks, feels, and acts. We can only manage what we think, feel, and do. If your goal also requires change in someone else, you will most likely be left feeling disappointed, frustrated, angry, and hurt.

Focus on Intentions

I want to introduce the concept of intentions. Let's explore intention setting instead of focusing on resolutions. Resolutions are, more often than not, a statement to change or resolve something you want to fix about yourself or your lifestyle. For example:“I want to lose weight. I want to get organized. I want to quit smoking. I want to be healthier. I want to stop procrastinating.”

Resolutions tend to offer little flexibility, which can often set you up for failure.

An intention focuses on cultivating something into your life. Intentions do not imply something is wrong with you or your lifestyle. Instead they embody growth and embarking along a journey. A journey allows for flexibility and ending up in a different place than you thought. For example:

January calendar

“I can accept myself as enough. I will challenge myself to try new things. I will control only what I can control. I will show/tell my loved ones how much they mean to me.”

When you set an intention, you approach things more compassionately. This can often lead to feeling less pressured to create changes and more curious to take action.

Pause for a few moments and identify one or two intentions for yourself. You can use the phrases ‘I intend…’ or ‘I will…’ to help you get started. Here are some possible opportunities. Where you can reflect upon your past year and discover intentions for the coming year:

Reflect on three obstacles you overcame this year: What did you learn? How did you overcome this?

Identify three positive shifts you made in the last year? (small steps count)

Name three powerful moments from the last year you would like to maybe build upon.

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Deva Murphy MSW, LCSW

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Deva Murphy, MSW, LCSW

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