Creating a New Year’s resolution is a trend for many Americans, and it seems like a good idea. People want to change from the previous year, and so they make a goal. They say things like “I want to lose weight”, “I want to get better in my relationship”, “I want to make more money,” ….the list goes on. These kinds of goals can work for some, but for most they end just the way they began, a simple utterance of wishful thinking that doesn’t result in substantial change….they don’t stick.

New Year's Resolution | Tampa CounselingHere’s an idea: Instead of making grand and lofty goals, it can help to look at your life and evaluate why you want what you want. Is it because you want to be happier? Is it because you want to be healthier? Is it because you want to feel secure? Once you have evaluated the “Why” then think about what you have already been doing that is stopping you from reaching the “Why.” Immediately see what you can do about eliminating these things.

When you eliminate things, it’s a good idea to replace them with something. So, find simple things that can feel fulfilling, and help replace the negative.

Once you’ve eliminated the negative, then you can think about small steps to increase your ability to reach the why. SMALL STEPS are the key. If you want to feel healthier, making the resolution to run 5 miles a day might not be realistic (if you’re not already a runner.) Instead, take small steps to feeling healthier. Walk one mile every day for two months then re-evaluate. Eat foods that are life giving like raw vegetables, healthy carbs, and more. You get the gist.

Now let’s see the sticky solution put into action:

Alice wants to quit smoking. Her “why” is because she wants to feel healthier. She realizes she needs to eliminate going to the store to buy cigarettes every day. She replaces this with a visit with her neighbor during which she de-stresses by talking about their grandchildren who they are proud of. She then schedules an appointment with the doctor and makes a plan to quit by using nicotine patches. She decides she is going to increase her ability to feel healthy by taking 10 minute walks every-other-day.

Johnathan wants to have a better relationship with his wife. His “why” is because he realizes they fight too much and he feels unhappy. He realizes he needs to eliminate watching 3 hours of television every night before they go to bed, since that stops him from talking with her or completing chores around the house. He decides to replace 1.5 hours of television watching with turning the TV off and talking with his wife, while helping her clean in the kitchen. He knows this will take away from his de-stress time, so he decides to record some shows he enjoys, so he can splurge on weekends when his wife is napping. He further schedules one date per month on his calendar with his wife, and decides what they will do ahead of time so that the dates don’t go unplanned.

Those were just a couple of examples, and it can be hard to do this on your own. Sometimes our emotions are highly involved. We have difficulties with creating logical steps for reaching our goals. This is where a counselor can help. If you need help sifting through your problems so you can create a strong plan for change, contact a counselor.

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