Shelby Williams
Adolescent and Young Adult Psychotherapist

How to Set Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year again… “New year, new me” posts are popping up everywhere.  New Year’s resolutions can be a great way to set goals for the upcoming year.  However, they can also easily become toxic.

While resolutions can be useful in helping you attain your goals, it’s important to make sure they are realistic and don’t create unhealthy habits or mindsets for yourself. It’s also important to know that you don’t need to set resolutions at all. But below are just a few tips to set healthy new year’s resolutions in 2022, if you choose to set some.

Choose attainable goals.
Don’t set yourself for disappointment, and make sure your goals are realistic.  You can always add new goals as you achieve your original ones, building off of the progress you’ve already made. 

Make small changes that contribute toward a larger goal.

You don’t have to reach a giant milestone in a small amount of time. Sometimes building small habits over a long time can be more helpful in continuing to make positive changes in your life. For instance, if you’re not used to exercising daily, having a goal of going for a two-mile run five days a week might be really difficult to reach and maintain.  Start by going for a 30 minute walk five days a week.  Then adjust and increase your goals as you meet them.

Avoiding setting number-based resolutions.

In some instances, putting a number on your goal can put a negative spin on them and become less about the change and more about rushing to the final goal.  For example, instead of setting a goal to make 10 new friends in the new year, you could make a resolution to attend a new club or group that would provide an organic space to meet new people. Making new friends can meet a lot of things and may not be something within your control. But placing yourself in new environments to meet people is within your control and can be a way to help you get out of your comfort zone and into new experiences. 

Avoid goals that take things away from you.

It can be harder to remain motivated to achieve our goals when we feel we are being deprived of something. Think about what you can do instead of what you cannot do. Instead of a resolution to “eat less junk food,” try reframing the goal to “add one additional fruit or one vegetable to every meal.” Or instead of something like “watch less TV,” try “spend thirty minutes per day on a new hobby.” Choose to focus on all the good things you can add into your life rather than what you can take away. 

 

Our best advice is to go for gradual improvement, not perfection. By setting attainable, healthy goals, you can slowly make positive changes in your life over time. And of course if you choose not to set any resolutions, that’s okay too! You can start making changes at any point in your life. You don’t have to wait for the start of the year. And you don’t need to have it all figured out by the end of the next year–but you can take small steps that can build towards larger changes.