By: Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFTHave you ever wondered why you can’t seem to stick to your New Year’s resolutions? Do you find yourself wondering why this happens each and every year? You have great intentions and you seem to take off with great force and then your momentum comes to a screeching halt around that third or fourth week in January. Don’t worry; you are not alone. Here is a list of things to consider when making your resolution.
- Does my resolution have to start on January 1st? So, it’s the beginning of a new year and it seems appropriate to make a fresh start. But, is it really necessary to start of the very first day of the year? Most of us are cleaning up messes from the holidays, attempting to get the kiddos back in something that resembles routine, stewing over that confrontational moment with the mother-in-law, and traveling to get back home. Some of us still may even have more gatherings planned that we were unable to make happen during the actual holidays. With all of these stressors and more, it seems like attempting to make a big change has potential for failure pretty quickly.
- Are the requirements to attain my resolution really feasible? When you make a resolution, think long and hard about how easily you can do this. If your resolution is to become a body builder over the next year, you will want to think about more than just your ability to go to the gym. Do you have the time to commit to all of the training required? Do you have all of the equipment necessary? And, if you don’t have all of the equipment, do you have the money to buy it? Do you know what type of diet you will need to maintain? And, if you don’t, do you know someone who can help you? Can you afford to pay them to help you? So, before you commit yourself to a resolution, think it through in terms of feasibility, accessibility, and possibility!
- Is this a resolution that I can really maintain long-term? Tying into the whole idea of thinking long and hard about your resolution choice, add this in as well. Is this something that you can maintain? Are you making such a drastic change in your life that it may not be easy to keep the same momentum at all times? Watzlawick, Weakland, and Fisch (1974) tell us that in first-order change, there are changes that are made but the structure of the system does not change. But, in second order change, the changes that occur are a direct result of a change in the system. So, ask yourself if the changes you have made are simple changes in behavior (first-order change) or complex changes in structure (second-order change) before you decide whether or not this resolution can and will continue past the 3rd week in January.
- What will happen if I don’t meet my resolution? This is an important question to ask yourself when making a resolution. Will you be disappointed and beat yourself up? Will you blame others for not making it happen? Will this add extra tension and stress to your life? Take some time to really think about this question before you make your resolution.
- Is it really necessary to even have a resolution? Yes, I asked it. I’m sorry if anyone thinks that this is blasphemous to even suggest it. But, can you skip the resolution this year? Or, if you are really against this idea, you can always make a resolution to not have a resolution this year! Something to think about, right?
During these last few weeks of December when you are thinking about your potential resolutions for the upcoming year, consider these five questions. And, most importantly, keep in mind that this is YOUR resolution. You are the expert on yourself which means that you get to choose your resolution and whether you have one or not.
 Watzlawick, P., Weakland, J. & Fisch, R. (1974) Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution. New York, NY: W.W Norton & Company, Inc.
This post was written by Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT, the Social Media and Programming Coordination Specialist for the OneOp Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about OneOp Family Development concentration on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.