How to Plan and Keep New Year Resolutions

It is not too late to plan your new year’s resolutions especially as Tet is still approaching. Last year my partner and I put two whole days aside to enter into a deep reflection on what we wanted to accomplish together, and also as separate human beings in the new year.. The reason for deliberately carving out such a long time of preparation was our understanding that New Year’s resolutions as a general rule fall apart very soon after the beginning of the New Year. In fact there have been many research studies conducted on this practice of making New Year’s resolutions and it seems that only about 8% of New Year’s resolutions are ever successful in the long term. Gym instructors have told me that there is always a huge influx of new members in January, but by February or March there is very noticeably fewer new members working out regularly.

If you don’t give sufficient thought and time to making new year’ resolutions they will inevitably fail and this can cause all sorts of negative feelings such as self-disappointment; hopelessness regarding the possibility of change and a feeling of being out of control and directionless to name but a few. So my partner and I put two days aside. You may not have the ‘luxury’ of that amount of time or the stamina but the point is you will be more than likely one of the 92% who fail to implement their New Year’s Resolutions if you don’t set aside some period of time of preparing. I will outline my approach below.

First Step: Meditation/Reflection

If you immediately go into planning mode your ideas will most probably be warped by your anxieties and past regrets or experiences. Spend about 20 minutes of meditation to clear your mind. By doing this you are also connecting with your inner wisdom and creativity.

Second Step: Discovering your Core Values

After meditating, you now transfer your focus to contemplation of your Core Values. What are core values? Core Values are the deepest guiding principles for your life - what you want to stand for; what you hope others see and appreciate about you. You know you have discovered a Core Value when you feel very excited or enthusiastic about some particular characteristic like, ‘Standing Up for the Truth’; The love of Family and Friends; The call of Adventure and Discovery.

So I invite you now to sit down and discover your own core values. Three to five core values are enough.

So ask yourself the questions - ‘what activities bring me the most joy or what couldn’t I live without; what things/pursuits give my life meaning and purpose.The first two two steps together provide a powerful meditative and inspirational foundation from which to now choose and develop action plans for your new year’s resolutions.

Step 3: Goals that Express your Core Values

Having identified your core values or ‘deep loves’, you are now ready to select concrete goals that will ensure that the pregnant energy within your core values can flow into each goal you select. So look at each of your core values and begin to think ‘how can I practically bring into my life the energy of these values.’ Understandably, as a psychologist, one of the important core values i come across working with clients is the importance and desire to build loving relationships. clients are how building of loving relationships. So using this example practical question would perhaps be ‘How can I in the new year build deeper, more loving relationships?’

The first step would be to divide your relationships into four main categories (this is an example but can change according to what relationships you want to build upon):

  • The intimate relationship with your Partner.
  • The loving relationship with your children.
  • Your close friendships.
  • Your professional relationships at work

So now you need to focus on the goal you have for each of these 4 categories.

Step 4. Developing Action Plans to Achieve Chosen Goals

Now that you have chosen your goals, that are the concrete expressions of your core values, you now need to devise detailed action plans that will help you as much as possible to achieve your goals. So I will continue to demonstrate this next step by developing an action plan for nourishing your intimate relationship with your partner as an example. You need to develop action plans for each of your goals that you have chosen.:

Action Plan to Nourish your Intimate Relationship with your Partner.

  • You may endeavour each morning to get up at the same time to eat together, exercise or practice religious practices
  • You may consider your working schedule and how this may be amended to allow for more time with your partner. Prioritising protected time to enjoy one anothers company is important such as going for meals, exercising together, reading with each other or investing in your sexual relationship. This is time to explore activities that you enjoy doing together which can benefit your relationship.
  • You may dedicate a time per week to discuss with those you are developing closer relationships with to see how things are going and focus on any difficulties that may be present.
  • You may decide to have quarterly meetings to see how well you are working towards your stated goals.

Good luck planning and keeping your New Years Resolutions!

By Matthew Ryan

Matthew Ryan is a senior psychologist who has been supporting and assisting people to work through their personal and relational problems, for over 30 years. As a couple's and family psychologist, Matthew’s role is to help each person in the relationship see how they contribute to their dysfunctional ways of relating, and what changes are necessary to resolve their difficulties. Matthew is also experienced in working with teenage males and females as they face the challenges of stepping into young adulthood. In addition, Matthew is experienced in providing counseling to people from the LGBT community.

Family Medical Practice was the first foreign-owned primary healthcare provider in Việt Nam, and has consistently remained at the forefront of international-standard medicine since 1995. It offers extensive healthcare and emergency medical services nationwide to Vietnamese, expatriate and corporate customers.

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