Mental Kinda Health: New Year’s Resolutions that are actually good for your mental health!

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year again. You have made your New Year Resolutions with so much excitement!

Oh yes, these are your goals for 2022. You felt great making them and you know you can do it.

But now it’s a few days past New Year’s. The excitement has worn off, even the hangover is gone and you still haven’t started on your resolutions, even though you promised yourself to take them seriously this year. 

You feel disappointed, demotivated, and annoyed at yourself. Because come on, how hard can it be? And you tell yourself: screw the goals; I’ll do it next year!

Is this a scenario you recognise?

When your resolutions don’t work
So why does this happen? Well, let me start by reassuring you. It’s not because there is something wrong with you, so stop blaming yourself. 

It’s not that your motivation is lacking, but let’s take a look at your goals.

Are they in fact your goals? Or are they determined by your outside world?

What do I mean by this? Well, we are constantly bombarded by what society deems as ‘correct’: how we should look, how healthy our lifestyle should be, where we should be in our career by a certain age, how we are expected to be as a parent, etc.

And it is easy to get swayed by these outside influences and start believing that they should be our goals. We end up forming our resolutions on the foundation of society’s norms and not what we truly want inside of us.

When this happens, your energy and motivation around your goal will not be enough to see it through. Because it’s actually not what you really want. 

It all starts on the inside.

Create long-lasting resolutions
Here’s a guide to setting New Year’s Resolutions that you will want to keep. 

1) Focus on what YOU really want
Not what you think will make others happy or what you think you need to do to fit into society’s norms, but what you truly want in your heart and soul. Ask yourself: if money was of no object what would I truly want?

1A) Why do you want this goal? 
The Why is important. What feelings will it bring to you? Does the thought of having it make you feel happy and excited? Yes! You are on the right path. No? Then go back to step 1.

2) Be very specific about your goal
If you want to lose weight, then instead of saying in 2022 I want to lose weight, make it more specific, I want to lose 10 kilos in 2022 or I want to run a half-marathon by September 2022. The more specific you are, the more realistic and the more achievable your goal becomes.

3) Word your goal positively 
Instead of formulating what you want to avoid – like “I don’t want to be overweight anymore” – focus on what you want: “I want to be fit and healthy so I can go on this hiking vacation I’ve been dreaming of.” The energy and motivation around your goal will be completely different when you focus on what you want and not what you want to avoid. 

4) Attach your new behaviour to an already existing behaviour
If you are ‘just’ adding to an existing behaviour, you are more likely to keep doing it. Taking running for example: you could resolve to run once more during the week or add 10 minutes to your running time, and even set yourself the challenge of running a half-marathon by the end of the year. 

5) Take action every day towards your goal 
Any small action is great. It will feel doable. If you start with huge actions, the probability of you being consistent will be smaller than if you start with small, easy doable actions. 

Celebrate your journey
Remember, this is a process and if you fall off the wagon for one day or even a few weeks, this does not mean that you have failed. It’s never too late to get back on. 

Lastly, celebrate yourself and your wins every step of the way.

You can do this!