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Blog Swap – Dream Big: How To Set New Year’s Resolutions And Keep Them

February 12, 2017
By Jessamy Hibberd, PhD, Psychologist 


Guest post from Dr. Jessamy Hibberd

Dr Jessamy is a Clinical Psychologist. She has a private practice in London and is co-author of the bestselling THIS BOOK WILL… series. To read more tips and strategies to feel good visit drjessamy.com, follow @drjessamy on Instagram, or like on Facebook.

We’re into February and despite best intentions, most resolutions are already failed and forgotten. A study by the University of Bristol found that only 12% of resolutions were successfully kept.

Despite this, I’m a big fan of “NYRs” and believe they can be beneficial for both mental health and general well being – as long as they’re made in the right kind of way.

So if you’re struggling with your resolutions instead of feeling deflated try a new approach. The key to good NYRs (or goals in general) is using them to celebrate your successes and basing them on what you hope to gain, rather than give up.

The rules are simple:

  • Write down all the things you were proud of in 2016 and any achievements, no matter how small
  • Make a list of everything you hope to do in 2017
  • Share your resolutions with someone you care about

This approach offers a chance to reflect on the year that’s passed, take stock and look forward to the year ahead with optimism, hope and excitement. Something we all need as we make our way through the winter months!

Of course, if you’re planning on giving up or restricting things in your life (such as giving up alcohol on weekdays or quitting sugar) then you’re likely to fail in the long term. Those definitely aren’t the sort of resolutions I’m talking about.

Think about your hopes, dreams and goals for the year: new things you want to do or try out, places you’d like to visit, work goals or people you’d like to see. Rather than giving up, it’s all about gaining.

The start of a new year offers the perfect time to review our lives. Often we are so focused on getting through the day that we forget to stop, step back and remind ourselves of the things we’re happy with – what’s gone well, what made us laugh, and what we’d like to improve on.

See the new year as a fresh start (February is not too late!). Use it to renew your motivation and allow yourself to let go of the things that didn’t go so well or that you weren’t so happy with. Avoid guilt or self-criticism and focus instead on where you want to go to next.

By making resolutions, you’re setting your intentions for the year ahead. These act as a map of where you’d like to head and carry you through the harder days giving you something to aim for and look forward to.

The good feelings don’t stop there, working towards and reaching your goals is brilliant for confidence and self-esteem. They give you a sense of purpose and feeling of fulfilment and when your mood is higher you’re more likely to succeed at making changes in the other areas of your life that you wish to tackle.

My top tips for making and keeping 2017 NYRs

Make a positive change

Resolutions work best when their aim is to make a positive change. Keep them simple and ensure they are realistic and achievable. Take time making them, if you make them too hastily they may only reflect how you were feeling at that time.

Step out of your comfort zone

It’s good to do things that mean you take a step out of your comfort zone. New experiences, new hobbies and challenging ourselves on a regular basis are massively important for maintaining good mental health, personal growth and improving self-esteem.

Have a mix of goals

Include small, medium and big goals. Have some goals that are outward focused – charitable, community based or involving others, so it’s not all about you.

Break them down

If it’s a bigger goal, break it down so that it’s clear what you’ll need to do to achieve it. Don’t add too many rules – there’s no need to start them exactly on the 1st or to have to do them 100% of the time.

Enjoy the journey as well as the destination

Ensure you enjoy yourself as you work towards your goals – if you’re only focused on the end point, you won’t gain the full benefits. How you get there and what you learn along the way is as important as the destination and it’s ok to make mistakes it’s just part of the process.

Reserve the right to change your mind

Your goals don’t need to be set in stone or last forever. I always reserve the right to change my mind! If it’s not working or you don’t like it, you can be pleased you tried it, but know it’s not for you.

Dreams are so important to living well and feeling good

Make 2017 the year that you dream big and look to gain from your resolutions so you fill your year with hope and optimism. Good luck! (And let me know how you get on!)

About the author

Dr Jessamy is a Clinical Psychologist. She has a private practice in London and is co-author of the bestselling THIS BOOK WILL… series. To read more tips and strategies to feel good visit drjessamy.com, follow @drjessamy on Instagram, or like on Facebook. The team at Connecte loves writing about ways to boost our mental health and bring psychology into our everyday lives. For more helpful tips, check out Connecte’s blogs, podcast, follow @connectepsychology on Instagram or like us on Facebook.