Realistic resolutions


New Year’s season is the time everyone’s making resolutions: drop those extra pounds, start training for that half- or full-marathon, totally nix sugar (and maybe even go full vegan or Paleo!), earn straight-As, and get into Harvard with a full scholarship.

Is it any wonder that folks get to Valentine’s Day feeling defeated on all counts?

So how do you improve without totally tanking within a matter of weeks? Here are three New Year’s tips to help you sustain improvement throughout the year.

  1. Accept that New Year’s is not a time to overhaul your life.

Instead of making your New Year’s goal to achieve fame, success, and superstar status, change the focus to gradual lifestyle changes that are easier on your mind. Some examples: remembering to be grateful, treating everyone you meet like a new friend, and taking the time to listen to one person per day.

  1. Make your operative words not “achievement” and “success,” but “improvement” and “sustainability.”

“Winning,” “likes,” and “followers” have been catchwords for the online self-congratulatory selfie culture. But these ideas run counter to sustaining realistic improvements over the long haul. Selfies may document a momentary gain, but check back with those folks in a couple of months, and it’s likely they’re back at square one, struggling with the same problems they started with.

  1. Slow and easy wins the race.

Life is not a race, anyway! When you start with small improvements and change one behavior at a time—one day at a time—you increase your chances of making the changes stick. Initially, you may feel like you’re losing the “race,” but as the folks who try to change everything all at once wind up floundering, you’ll watch your own improvements rack up. … And if you wind up moving two steps forward and one step back, it’s okay—if you don’t beat yourself up, you’ll be fine in the long run.

Bonus tip: Communicate, and ask for help!

This is a theme that runs through SOVA: people who ask for help usually do better. And they put themselves in a position to pass that help along later to others who need it.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

What improvements would you like to make this year? How do you think you’ll go about working toward them?

fresh start

Moderator ★

Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: We look forward to talking to you!

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