When you make New Year\’s resolutions, do you feel defeated before you start? Many people don\’t even bother to articulate resolutions since so many often fail. But if you make resolutions with your partner, you can support each other, and your chances of success improve significantly.

The first step to realizing your resolutions is to be accountable. When you\’re making goals with your partner, you automatically have built-in accountability to each other. And you have a responsibility to cheer your partner on—find ways to help him or her succeed. Encourage your partner and expect him or her to encourage you in return. No fair letting those competitive juices take over. You are part of a team—you both want the team to win.

Here are some ways you can support your partner, and your partner can support you:

1)    Have a plan. Think about what might go wrong and how you might prevent it before it happens. Trying to cut sugar from your diet? Plan your meals carefully, and buy only what you need when you\’re at the grocery store. And if you do slip and accidentally ingest a few double stuffed Oreos, remember, if we were all perfect we wouldn\’t need resolutions. Cut yourself some slack and go right back to the plan as soon as you can. Don\’t let one slip be your rationale for going off the wagon entirely. If you slip repeatedly, then maybe counseling is in order.

2)    Understand your motivation. If you feel better a few pounds thinner, and your clothes fit better, and you like how you look, then keep reminding yourself of the positive outcomes. You have to have reasons behind your resolution that are strong enough to offset the pain of sticking to the plan. If it\’s not worth it to give up sugar, don\’t. Sometimes it seems that others\’ goals should be yours too. But if you\’re not willing to make the necessary sacrifices then you shouldn\’t have the goal.

3)    Don\’t try to do too much. This is the classic problem of setting yourself up for failure. When you attempt to make too many changes, you are sabotaging yourself. Multitasking well is pretty much a myth. There\’s only so much you can do successfully in a limited time period. And if your goal is huge—like writing a novel when all you\’ve ever attempted is a blog—try taking baby steps first. Break the goal down into manageable chunks. Baby steps often get you where you want to go more expeditiously than leaps and bounds.

4)    Quantify your goal. It\’s not enough to say what you want to do. You need specifics to help you realize your resolution. If you want to lose weight, how much do you want to lose? And by what date? How much do you expect to lose month to month? What will you do if you fall behind? When you break it down, you begin to see what can be achieved realistically, and you can make adjustments accordingly.

5)    Step up to success. Any change is difficult, and most people just don\’t like change. Even a change for the better. Even a change you want so much you\’ve gone to the trouble to establish a resolution. Recognize that your aversion to change may be a stumbling block and be ready for it. If you find yourself slipping back into that old familiar, but undesirable, behavior, stop. Consider counseling if you continue to revert to unwanted behavior. Acknowledge that there\’s a certain comfort in your familiar patterns, but your goal is to break those patterns and establish new ones. Embrace the possibility of success and soon you\’ll be embracing success itself.

It\’s not easy to make changes in your behavior, but remember that people who make explicit resolutions are far more likely to attain their goals than those who are vague. And when you work together with your partner, you\’re both more likely to succeed—and that\’s doubly good.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here: https://nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.