Struggling with New Year’s Resolutions – Give Yourself A Break

Many of us find ourselves buying into the pressure of making major changes at the start of each year. According to the History Channel website, making these overreaching promises began with the ancient Babylonians almost 4,000 years ago. Although the timing was a bit different. At the start of their New Year, in, spring due to planting season, people would make vows to the Gods to pay their debts and return items they had borrowed through the past year. Not the same, but a beginning of a tradition that would take hold.

According to one study, an average of 43 percent of all people fail before February and almost one out of four quit within one week of setting their goals. Only about nine percent actually make it for a full year. If you have already slacked off a bit on some of the promises you made on January 1st, you are in good company.

Tips to aid you in keeping those goals, even if you have lost your path, are everywhere via self-help books, podcasts and online. We’ve put together a few of ideas to ponder.

  1. Use the SMART technique when setting goals. Set your resolutions to be:
    1. Specific
    2. Measurable
    3. Achievable
    4. Relevant
    5. Time-Bound
  2. Be aware of the dopamine response. Dopamine is a compound in your body that when released creates pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation. When we focus on rewards that can be achieved by reaching our goals, our body releases dopamine as a result. Long-term goals don’t usually get us this dopamine response, so making short-term goals may be more achievable.
  3. Take small steps toward your ultimate goal. Even making small changes can be a big disruption to normal habits and routine. Focus on the consistency of small changes rather than big efforts to shake up your entire routine.

New Year’s Resolutions can be a good thing, but they can also wreak havoc on your self-esteem, your confidence and your overall happiness. Go with the flow, do what is comfortable, yet just a little bit challenging. Take it easy on yourself and with every small step, you’ll be the lucky one to get that great satisfaction when your brain decides that you did it, gives you a little dopamine hit and makes you know you are on the right track. Take time to enjoy all that the New Year has to offer.