It’s officially a new year and most of us are already made or are currently creating our resolution lists. We have lots of things we want to change and this new year marks for a new beginning, which seems like the best time to start. Unfortunately every year, millions of individuals make a list of New Year’s resolutions and by midyear they are broken; then by the end of the year very few things, if any, have changed and before you know it we are making another list for the subsequent year. Understanding the reasons behind these resolutions are more important than making the actual list. Below are myths about New Year’s resolutions:

Myth #1: You know exactly what you want to change.

Reality: We should focus on the reasons why we are trying to change instead of focusing on the actual thing that needs to change.

You think you will be happier when you lose 10 pounds. Why? Is it to fit into your old clothes from when you were younger? Is it to make yourself more attractive for your spouse or future potential partner? Setting a goal without understanding the purpose of the goal makes individuals less likely to accomplish the goal, and more likely to feel dissatisfied even when the goal is met. If the goal is to lose 10 pounds and the reason is so you can feel more confident in yourself, will this weight loss result in more self-confidence? Self-confidence is about loving your body regardless of the size and shape. Maybe losing 10 pounds will help you feel more comfortable with your body however are there other aspects in your life that have caused you to lose confidence in yourself? Maybe a broken relationship, feeling discontent with your job, or a battle with depression can also be contributing to your need for higher self-esteem. Start with what you want to feel then set goals that help obtain those positive desired feelings or eliminate the negative ones.

Myth #2: Big goals are better than little ones.

Reality: It is all about baby steps.

We often set huge financial goals for the new year like “let’s save 25% of our paychecks”, and it may be feasible for the first quarter, but things come up during the year that can leave us feeling like we are not meeting our huge financial plan. Medical bills, unforeseen broken appliances, taxes, a big splurge on vacation, or car repairs; some of these things we can control but other we cannot. Setting up an automatic deduction of $50 per week from your checking account into savings, and then setting up quarterly reminders to move the money into an investment account will help you accomplish your goal in a more manageable way. We are more likely to achieve goals that are broken into small, specific steps, and we should celebrate these small steps along the way to meeting our big goal.

Myth #3: It is easy to make one small change.

Reality: Changing anything takes commitment and time

Another myths about New Year’s resolutions involves coping with change. Even small changes such as reading for 30 minutes a day or exercising four days a week seem easy right? On paper, yes they do. However, a habit forms from a behavior that is repeated for three months straight. Any type of behavioral change, big or small, requires continuous effort until it becomes an automatic part of our routine. Adding something to your routine means subtracting something else. Reading 30 minutes each day may mean watching less television per day or getting 30 minutes of less sleep each night. Even the slightest change is difficult. This makes changing anything takes commitment one of the myths about New Year’s resolutions.

Myth #4: Starting January 1st, you are a whole new person

Reality: You are the exact same person you were the previous year

Yes, we want to change, we want improvement and we want a fresh start however we cannot re-invent ourselves all at once. Change takes time, commitment, and needs to be done in small goals. Start with changing one small thing about yourself over a period of 3-4 months then try introducing a new change to your life. Eating healthy, cutting out television, saving more money and exercising daily are all great goals but trying to do these all at once will be overwhelming and ultimately will lead to failure in the long-term.

Myth #5: You don’t have to write your New Year’s Resolutions down. Just thinking about them counts.

Reality: Write your goals down and allow others to hold you accountable.

Make a list of your goals, the reasons, and feeling behind these goals, a plan to obtain these goals and a timeline. Measurable commitments are easier to keep track of rather than lofty commitments such as “I want to be happier.” If you want to be happier, find measurable ways to do this such as meeting new friends, learning a new hobby, and understanding what exactly makes you happy. Keep a log of these things and ask others to help you reach these goals by holding you accountable.

Fill in the blanks below to help you get started on a healthy New Year’s Resolution:

• I want to feel (BLANK), so I am going to resolve to (BLANK).
• I will take this one small step (BLANK) by the end of the week on January 7th.
• I will subtract (BLANK) from my current routine to make time for my resolution
• Talk to me next year or next quarter about changing (BLANK) because I know I can’t do everything at once.
• I have written my resolution down in the following place (BLANK) and shared it with the following person (BLANK).
• To boost my wellbeing and make me a bit happier along the way, I will treat myself every (BLANK) week/month/specific time frame.

Those were the five myths about New Year’s resolutions. If you find yourself continuing to struggle, Center for Discovery can help.

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