Question (from Sarah):
As a psychologist, what is your opinion of New Year Resolutions?
New Year Resolutions can be wonderful or they can be daunting. An important variable that determines the positive or negative effects of New Year Resolutions is the mindset of the person making the resolutions.
It’s not the resolution that is good or bad….it’s the attitude and mental frame that the resolution maker has about the intention. For example: You may resolve to go on a diet and join a gym in the New Year. There is nothing wrong with that! In fact, it’s a very healthy resolution. As the months of 2015 go by and you continue over-eating and you forget to join a gym…a very negative reaction could be that you feel worthless and angry at yourself. A positive reaction would be to re-evaluate your resolution and decide whether you want to postpone it or readjust your requirements. You may decide to cut out your bedtime snack and instead of joining a gym you can decide to take a 15 minute walk at lunchtime.
Here is another example: You might decide that you want to read a new book every week. You set a goal of reading 52 books in 2015. The first week passes by and you haven’t even visited the library. You could get down about this and think, “I never finish anything I start.” Or you could say, “Okay. I will reexamine this resolution and I will decide to read one book per month for a total of 12 books this year.” This goal is far more attainable.
Get the picture? Basically it’s important not to be too hard on yourself. By the time you’re a Boomer or a Senior you probably know what your reactions/responses are like. You know yourself pretty well by now. You know if making a New Year resolution will end up with self-loathing….or simply needing to reframe your aspirations.
If you are more prone to judging yourself harshly this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider any resolutions at all. Instead, make your resolutions like easy baby steps leading you toward a goal. By having more manageable and achievable goals you increase the possibility of success and self pride.
Boomers and Seniors have more self-understanding than the younger generational groups and potentially have the best success when dealing with New Year Resolutions. New Year Resolutions are aspirational and having positive and optimistic feelings toward the future year is a very healthy thing.
Enjoy the New Year and good wishes with your resolutions!