Making resolutions for the New Year

Column by Shawn Griffin

By Shawn Griffin, Running Creek Counseling in Parker
Posted

In thinking about writing my first article this year, my mind was swimming with many areas I could explore.

I questioned whether I would jump right into some serious and important topics or keep it general and light. Ultimately, you will be the judge of that, but I decided on a subject many of us consider every year - the New Year's resolutions. These create feelings of anxiety, fear, frustration, sadness, conflict, hope, happiness, confidence, and achievement to name only a few.

Resolutions can take any form: weight loss, diets, improved health (just check out the gym's and recreation centers, wow, are they busy!), stopping a variety of things from drinking, smoking, procrastination, etc.

Or they may include starting something new like volunteering, working out, increased family time, a new hobby, educational or professional goals. Some people agonize over these and others think nothing of them, but this article is for all of the above and especially for those people who make them. By this time, you may have already set your resolution and are going strong and sticking with it ... way to go and keep up the good work! For others however, you may have already fallen short, but don't be discouraged. When you stop to think of it, we make resolutions, decisions, and/or goals to change our life throughout the entire year. Just because we decided to make a change on Jan. 1 doesn't prevent us from making other changes or recommitting to that change later on. Consider the definition of the word: Re - from Latin meaning "again and again" to indicate repetition; Solution - "an action or process of solving a problem." Therefore, to have a resolution is to re-solution or to do the solution again and again.

Let me repeat myself, the important thing to keep in mind: Don't be discouraged! You can stick to the resolution by restarting. An effective tool for people who succeed in any area is to write the goal. This is a commitment to yourself and the goal. Adding steps to the goals and the ways you will achieve it have been shown to be the best way to achieve them. However, remember to keep goals realistic. You can set benchmarks, like baby steps, thereby allowing yourself to modify goals as you continue. Another effective motivator is to have a buddy that has the same resolution and help support one another. You know the sayings, "no man is an island" or "it takes a village" or better yet "there is power in numbers." Well, these all apply when trying to make any changes in our lives. The support we get from a friend, spouse, parent, or even a therapist can be the difference between success and setbacks. The other benefit is that you are supporting your buddy as well; it just feels good when we can give altruistically.

Set a schedule if your resolutions are behaviors new to your lifestyle. Making a place in your day or week for the new behaviors and committing it to your schedule will help in fostering the change you have wanted to make for yourself. There are lots of tools out there to assist you. Every fitness or health interest has hundreds if not thousands of Web sites and/or Apps for your smart phone, iPod, or tablet. Some examples are: The Biggest Loser, my fitness pal, livestrong, Strava, Colorado Quit Line, and so many others. As you progress in your success of the resolution it is important to have a strategy prepared for when the going gets tough. Prepare for challenges. This takes a variety of forms, depending on whether you have decided to quit a bad habit or are starting a good one. These challenges come at any time, but if you are aware of and prepared for what those trigger situations are, for instance, places, people, your mood or times of day, you will increase your chances of conquering them and have the plan to do it.

To summarize this into something my mind can understand, use the S.M.A.R.T. method in setting resolutions. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Finally, if you have "blown" your resolutions or you think you might, keep in mind that Jan. 1 only holds significance if you decide it does. It can be as important or unimportant as say March 18. It's really just a day like any other day. The point is, keep yourself positive. We all have setbacks and challenges that occur, but we also have the ability to make up our minds to start over and keep moving in a positive direction. That is the point of resolutions, isn't it: to keep changing ourselves in a positive direction ... any day of the year.