Resolution Pollution

Why you shouldn’t make New Year’s resolutions

By Barbara Pierce

It’s New Year’s, which means it’s time to make a resolution or two.

So what will they be this year?

Lose weight (again)? Get another job? Work out every day? Drink less? See more (or less) of the family?

The truth is, most of us will do the same thing we always do: set some goals that we’ll forget about or give up on by about by the 7th of January, or thereabouts.

Only 10 percent of people who set resolutions actually achieve them. For most of us, what happens in January stays in January.

So this year, we’re proposing something different, with the help of Deanna Brady, psychiatric nurse practitioner and owner of Present Tense Psychiatry in Clinton, a practice that provides comprehensive psychiatric care.

Rather than rushing forward in a panic to set resolutions or a list of goals you can start on New Year’s Day, forget all that. Stop the thoughts of “I should do this” and “I must change this.”

Begin the New Year being absolutely positive about how great this year is going to be for you.

Know you will succeed at whatever you choose to succeed at. Of course you should have goals for yourself, no matter what time of year. However, you shouldn’t force your goals when the time isn’t right. New Year’s might feel like a great time to take a stand, but you’re better served waiting until you’re more fully committed — mentally, physically, and spiritually.

“I challenge you to think about what you really want,” suggests Brady. “What do you feel is missing from your life?”

Take stock of where you are and what might be missing from your life instead of continuing doing what others expect you to do or what you think might make you seem more successful or appealing.

Goals are all about improving yourself, about making your life better. This should be something that comes from basic motivation and something that you want to do for yourself. If the motivation comes from yourself, then you will stick with your goal because you don’t need anyone else to notice. You will notice, and that’s all that matters.

Ask yourself: What’s missing?

Think about what you feel is missing from your life, said Brady. Then look at the steps you will need to take to get there. Break it down into baby steps — manageable baby steps that you can achieve in a day or so. Achieving each step and celebrating each achievement gives you motivation to go on to the next.

If you focus on the big picture, you can get overwhelmed because it appears so hard to accomplish. It’s easy to get discouraged and demoralized. Just keep your focus on achieving that next step.

For example, if your goal is to organize your house, your first step could be organizing one dresser, or closet, or small room. Don’t get sidetracked; stick with your goal of that one area. Then celebrate when you get that one area done.

Or you want to get a degree and you can do it online on your own schedule. Start by biting off chunks of 30 minutes a day. Complete one course. Celebrate your achievement. Then complete the next.

Sometimes it helps to write down the goal and the steps you will need to get there.

“Set yourself up for success,” added Brady. “There’s no worse feeling than setting your goal to something unachievable. Make sure that the steps are achievable without a lot of difficulty.”

“And remember that goals are not set in stone. They are movable, fluid and changeable,” said Brady. “If your goal is to work out five days a week, great, but don’t put restrictions on it. Maybe on two of those days, you walk your dog, do yard work or meet a friend at the gym.”

So stop putting pressure on yourself to carry out resolutions. Just think of goals for yourself. Don’t make these long-term goals your New Year’s resolutions. You’re doomed once you put a yearlong time stamp on it.

The New Year should bring a feeling of newness. So this year, it’s time to make a real change. It’s time to take stock of where you are and what you want out of life, not to continue doing what others expect you to do or what you should do.

For more information, call 315-853-2125 or visit