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New Year’s Resolutions Can Be a TRAP

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3 simple things to help you not get caught in it!

By Dr. Joanne Mednick, MFT and Scott Mednick, MA

It is that time of year again. The holiday season culminates with the start of a brand-new year. Many of us take this opportunity to look ahead and each year almost two-thirds of us make New Year’s Resolutions but fewer than 8% actually fulfill them. Many of these good intentions do not even make it through the first month. But the majority of us go ahead anyway and make a new list of resolutions—once again hoping this will be the year.

So why set yourself up for failure? With so many among us having difficulty quieting that internal voice full of negative self-talk, why give more fuel to that fire?

The answer may be in a new way to approach what has become a time-honored tradition.

Look ahead by looking back.

Every year the same kinds of resolutions top the surveys of everyone’s lists. A recent survey includes these tried and true resolutions:

  • Exercise more
  • Lose weight
  • Get organized
  • Learn a new skill or hobby 
  • Save more money / spend less money
  • Quit smoking
  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Travel more
  • Read more
  • Eat better

Indeed, these are the most common resolutions that are made year after year. Yours may be similar. And if you look back at the types of commitments you make to yourself – and then break – there may be some value in taking an inventory of what you have failed to live up to in these past promises to yourself. Going forward you are best informed by realistically looking at your past actions and experiences.

** You don’t have to struggle alone with mental health this holiday season. 

Contact our team of treatment professionals to learn more about treatment options. 

It is better to BE than to DO.

There is a commonality to almost every set of New Year’s resolutions: they are task or event driven. To ‘do’ something. Exercise, Lose Weight, Quit Smoking. You may be better served to take a more holistic view of how to ‘be’ first and then decide steps to get there.

Change your New Year’s Resolutions from a ‘TO DO’ list into a ‘TO BE’ list.

For example, decide to Be Healthier. There are many ways you can accomplish that: Exercise, Eat Better, Lose Weight, Quit Smoking. But the key is to take the emphasis off of the particular activities and on to the overall goal. And by not going for a set goal (lose 20 pounds) you can still succeed by being healthier because even losing only a few pounds can get you to that goal without you considering yourself having failed and then simply stopping which so many people do.

Most of the New Year’s Resolutions on most people lists can be converted by changing the idea of doing some specific task into an overall goal of a state of being:

Be Healthier
Be Happier
Be More Motivated
Be a Better Friend
Be Kinder to Yourself

24/7/365.

We all hope for a better future. This is especially true when the year you are leaving behind may have been a tough one.

But, creating a list of who you want to be and how you want to get there is not something that you should relegate to a once a year activity. Every single day is a new opportunity to be the very best you. And every day can be an opportunity to move along that path at your own pace. The process of becoming.

It is easy to fail on a resolution to ‘do’ something. If you don’t do it you feel you have broken that promise to yourself. But if the goal is to ‘be’, that is something that requires time for you to ‘become’.

Some days you run and others you walk. Sometimes very slowly. But that should not be of concern. Becoming is a process and not an event. Check in with yourself every day. Make that a new opportunity to ‘be’ the things you want and take a step in that direction.

The changing of the year allows us all to reflect on times past as well as the future ahead. Hopefully, by giving yourself the gift of framing your future by a series of things you want to be can provide a foundation for ways that you can improve your mental health in the days, weeks, months and years ahead.

Make it a Happy New Year. All year long. One day at a time.

** Don’t put off mental health treatment because it’s the holiday season.

Learn more about treatment options at Serenity Trauma Healing Center.

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