Psychologists say setting goals, not resolutions, key for 2022 success

MADISON, Wis. — Every year, many of us make New Year’s Resolutions — and every year at about this time, we have trouble sticking with them.

A new year is a convenient starting point for a lot of new behaviors we might be trying to train ourselves into doing, but it’s common for those resolutions to fall to the wayside after a few weeks. In order to avoid that, psychologists at UW Health say it’s best to establish goals about who we want to be in the new year — and not goals that just give us more to do.

Dr. Shilagh Mirgain says there are four “building blocks” that can help lead to better, more attainable resolutions:

  • Reflect on this past year: take a look at what went right and what went wrong in the last year — what do you want to bring with you into the new year, and what do you want to leave behind in 2021? What were the things in 2021 that brought you happiness?
  • Envision your best year: Picture your life one year from now — how do you want to feel then? What’s one word that would describe it? Work towards that word or vision statement in the new year.
  • Set some realistic goals: The key is to set goals for who you are becoming or want to become, and not just giving yourself more tasks. The goals should give you energy, not drain it. Once you have your goal, break it down into measurable steps — what can you do daily, weekly or monthly that will move you in the right direction?
  • Plan for and anticipate obstacles: One of the biggest reasons New Year’s Resolutions fail is because we don’t plan for the roadblocks or setbacks. Think about what challenges could arise on the way to meeting your goal and have a plan to overcome them. Celebrate the successes and adjust your plans accordingly if you encounter obstacles.