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I’ve Already Broken My New Year’s Resolution. Now What?

Dear Acenda,

I feel like an absolute failure. My New Year's Resolution for 2021 was to live a healthier lifestyle, yet just this past weekend I ordered a bunch of takeout and binged on my couch while watching movies. I was doing so well during the week drinking green juice and taking walks around the neighborhood, but now that I've fallen off the health wagon I feel more defeated than ever.

I'm losing motivation to try to get back on track. I just feel like it's pointless since I'll likely fail again. I hate this feeling of not being good enough. What should I do?

Sincerely,
Feeling Like a Failure

Dear Feeling Like a Failure,

Don't be so hard on yourself! According to one study, only 4% of people who made New Year's resolutions in 2018 actually stuck to them. In fact, it's reported that many give up on their resolution by the second Friday of January.

It's been studied and analyzed that so-called "failed" resolutions can have a pretty serious impact on one's mental health. The pressure to succeed can exacerbate existing mental health conditions. The reality is change doesn't happen overnight. You won't just wake up on January 1st with a new outlook on life ready to take on the world. A change in lifestyle is a process.

That's not to say that resolutions can't be a good thing for upkeeping mental wellbeing. Setting realistic, attainable goals can certainly help you feel better. It's important to note that goals don't have to be tied to the new year. You can set goals and start at any time that you feel comfortable.

Here are a few tips to help conquer 2021:
new years resolution planning schedule goals

1. Choose a specific goal. Vague plans are often more likely to fall through. For example, rather than "live a healthier lifestyle," try a more specific item like "exercise 20 minutes a day" or "eat one fruit or vegetable per meal".

2. Make a plan. Envision a pathway for your resolution to allow you to look into the future rather than dwell upon immediate results.

3. Set milestones and reward yourself. This tip will definitely help with lack of motivation. Setting small rewards will help you stay motivated and keep working towards that next goal rather than focusing on the end result. For example, treat yourself to a spa day after 3 months of meeting your goals!

4. Find support. Surrounding yourself with likeminded individuals will quickly build a support system to keep you on track and feel apart of something bigger. In the world of social media, it's easy to find a social tribe.

5. Embrace failure. As the great Winston Churchill said, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts". Learn to forgive yourself for minor slip-ups and don't beat yourself up if you miss your goal. Use your mistakes as motivation to get back on track even better than before.

The main piece of advice is this: don't give up! If you're struggling with mental health this new year, licensed clinicians in our Counseling & Wellness Centers are here to help. Call 844-4-ACENDA (844-422-3632 x9500) to request an appointment.


Sources:

https://www.ohanabehavioralhealth.com/impact-of-failed-new-years-resolution-on-mental-health-and-how-to-set-realistic-goals/

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/January-2019/5-New-Year-s-Resolutions-for-Depression