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cognitive behavioral therapy / holidays / psychology / Q & A Fridays / surviving the holidays / therapy / Uncategorized

How to Stick to New Year’s Resolutions

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In a session today, a client said to me, “Every year I make all these great New Years resolutions, and every year I fail at them. What am I doing wrong? Everyone else knows how to stick to their new years resolutions, why can’t I? I feel like a loser.”

Does this feel familiar? Does anyone else deal with this?

First off, everyone else definitely does not know how to stick to their New Year’s resolutions. In fact, according to Wikipedia, “52% of participants in a resolution study were confident of success with their goals, only 12% actually achieved their goals.”

I think that many people don’t really know how to make attainable or realistic New Year’s resolutions. What I see often are people creating very rigid black and white New Year’s resolutions that are set ups to failure.

New Year’s resolutions are great! They are a way to reflect on the past year, think about what worked and what you want to bring of into your life and a way to think about what didn’t work so well and what you want to let go of in your life.

People often make resolutions that sound something like this:

  • Lose 10 pounds.
  • Be more confident
  • Stop eating sugar
  • Quit drinking alcohol
  • Make more money
  • Go to therapy every week and never miss a session 😉
  • Get a boyfriend/girlfriend
  • Quit smoking
  • Stop wasting time on the internet
  • Quit drinking diet coke
  • Go to the gym every day
  • Save more money

But come January 4th, when you’re back at work and stressed out and that guy walking down the street puffing on a Camel light passes you, and you compulsively bum a cigarette off him, well then you’re screwed. 2011 is ruined. You now have to wait another year to quit smoking. Okay, that’s extreme, but often that’s how black and white it can be with resolutions.

Anyway, I have been trying different remedies to quit smoking like switching to products like snus (available online) to reduce my nicotine cravings. I’m a heavy smoker and it’s a habit I’m trying to kick! Quitting smoking is a common new year’s resolution and I have to admit, it’s one I’ll be sticking to this year. Websites like Nicotine-Pouches.com can make things easier, but ultimately, it’s up to the smoker to stop smoking. My friends have all managed to quit smoking by switching to vaping for a period of time, as they said it helped to reduce their cravings whilst still giving them that same process that they were doing with smoking. They found that vaping mods from places like e-cigarettepros.com/ did the trick to help ease their symptoms as well as still giving them that nicotine relief.

A better way to achieve your healthy resolutions is not just to think of the goal (e.g. I will lose weight) but to think of the benefits of achieving that goal. By losing weight you will be less tired, will fit in that old dress you love, your ankles will swell and hurt less, go on longer walks, spend less on grocery shopping… you get the idea. These are called motivations and remembering them can help you to stick to the goal when things get stressful. Motivation ideas can come from anywhere, I know someone who achieved their health resolutions just because it meant they would be paying lower life insurance premiums to their provider, Final Expense Direct. Again, motivations can come from anywhere, they can be big or small, the only criteria is that you write them down so you don’t forget why you want to do this for your health.

Another way to help you stick to your healthy resolutions is to try and create more of a life that you want by integrating more of the kinds of behaviors that you have seen work for you in the past. For example:

  • I will work on decreasing my binge eating by calling supportive people when I know that I’m heading into a challenging situation and by eating three meals a day and by getting enough protein.
  • I will join Quitnet to get some support in helping me quit smoking.
  • I will try to be kinder to myself. When I notice that I’m being mean to myself, I will take a breath and promptly stop.
  • I will decrease the amount of processed sugar that I eat by integrating more fruit into my diet and letting go of processed sugary snacks.
  • Rather than drinking 6 diet cokes a day, I will drink water, kombucha, green tea, and allow myself to have 1 diet coke each day if I choose.
  • I will set a timer to allow myself 20 minutes twice a to waste time on the internet.
  • I will let people know that I am interested in being introduced to a potential partner or start dating online.
  • I will decrease the amount of alcohol that I am drinking. If I find that I cannot do that, or if it is a major problem for me, I will consider my treatment options.
  • I will prioritize my therapy appointments, though I understand that things come up at times that are beyond my control.
  • I will look for jobs or think about ways to increase my earning potential by talking to people who have skills that I admire or by going back to school or being open to suggestions from other people.
  • I will find an activity partner to go hiking with or I will join a run club/tri-club.
  • I will bring lunch from home twice a week and take the money I save and put it in a savings account.

Resolutions should be flexible and malleable. Not rigid and fixed. They should have wiggle room and the ability to grow and evolve. Integrating small changes can have a snowball effect.

Rather than expecting to be one person acting one way on December 31s and an entirely different person on January 1st, think about yourself as a small snowball. As rolls down a snowy hill, it picks up more snow, gaining speed, power, strength, mass, surface area and momentum. Eventually it becomes a gigantic ball of snow. You can create a snowball effect by implementing small, doable changes that become very large grandiose changes. Start small, implement more changes, get some momentum and let it take on a life of its own.

What kinds of things worked for you in 2010? What didn’t work for you? What do you want to bring in more of? What do you want to bring in less of?

Telling people about your resolutions and talking about the changes you are making can be helpful in growing them. Joining with people who have similar goals and resolutions can also be helpful.

What kinds of resolutions do you have and how do you plan on implementing them?

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating disorders? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location.

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