It’s a new year with no mistakes in it. A perfect time to make resolutions. Get inspired. You’re gonna do better this year, for sure. It’s good that you’re ambitious. And it’s great that you seek to improve and be a better you. But don’t overdo it or you may undermine your efforts.

Making Resolutions You Can Keep Nancy'S Counseling Corner


The trick is to set goals that are reasonable enough that they don’t make you anxious. You need to be true to yourself, and not try to be something you’re not. If you’re happy with your weight, then don’t set goals to have six-pack abs. It may be the fashion, but in your heart of hearts, is it really you? If the resolutions you make create friction within yourself, the resulting stress can hinder your progress in other areas that are important to you. Ultimately, your self-esteem can take a hit and your efforts can backfire to thwart your true potential.

Here are some guidelines for making successful resolutions:

  • Accentuate the positive. If you want to change something you don’t like about yourself, don’t dwell on the negative. To reduce your dependence on fancy coffee, for example, try not to forbid yourself from going to the coffee shop. Instead, think of an alternative to the coffee barista. Start a ritual of brewing low caffeine tea in a beautiful pot to take the place of the habit you’d like to break.
  • Find your passion. Yes, there are plenty of things you ‘should’ be doing in the New Year. But if you want to connect with your true self and make a resolution you’ll stick to, make it something you can generate some real enthusiasm for. If you want to live a healthier life style and you love to cook, resolve to eat fresh, local foods. Find new recipes. Discover new farmers’ markets. When your resolution is fun for you, you’ll have a better chance of keeping it.
  • Make yourself accountable. When you set your goal, quantify it if possible. To resolve to lose weight is less effective than resolving to lose 10 pounds in six months—or whatever is reasonable and do-able for you. And let others in on your goal—better yet, make them your weight-losing buddies. Report to them about your progress or ask them to join you in your efforts. Support each other. Once you’ve let someone else in on your goal—you’ve spoken it out loud and it becomes a firm commitment.
  • Cut yourself some slack. Yes, you promised to visit your grandma every Sunday, but you were traveling and couldn’t make it. Or you had a test to cram for, and couldn’t spare the time. Just because you missed one Sunday, don’t give up and throw in the towel completely. You’ll get back to seeing her on as regular a schedule as you can reasonably manage. Meanwhile, maybe a telephone call would do. Just make sure you don’t feel like you’ve failed. Nobody’s perfect.
  • Think your goals through carefully. Can you honestly achieve all the things you want in a year? Sometimes less is more in the resolution department. Take a careful look at everything you want to do and determine if it’s realistic. Break down each task to get a practical idea of how much you can accomplish in a given time frame. If you want to write your memoir, great. But how many chapters will you have? How long will it take you to write each chapter? If your goal is important enough to you, you need to walk through each step in the process. Then focus on the short term chunks of the process that will eventually lead you to success.

And have a happy, healthy, productive new year.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: