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Welcoming in 2015: New Year, New Goals

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”
Tony Robbins

New year, new goals - Summit Counseling CenterEvery January, thousands of people set goals for the year ahead. A worthy task but judging by all the empty gyms come February, it’s one that few people follow through on. This begs the question of what goes wrong. Are their goals wrong or is their method? It’s quite possibly both.

First of all, let’s examine why we set resolutions each year. As December draws to a close, we reflect on the past year. Our triumphs and our failures. What we did right and what we wish had gone differently. We are determined that our reflections next December will look differently, so we set lofty goals to insure that next year will contain far more triumphs than disappointments. We start out enthusiastic and excited for the changes we’re about to make. A month, then two roll by, life moves on, and our goals are unintentionally left behind. In order to make next December’s reflections look different, we have to set the right goals and go about meeting them the right way.

There is nothing wrong with the “typical” New Year’s resolutions. Losing weight, living more green and volunteering our time are all worthy goals for anyone. However, if you’re struggling emotionally with discouragement or loneliness, meeting your goals is going to be even more difficult. By setting resolutions that enhance your emotional health, you are setting yourself up for success. Once you become more healthy, those changes will turn outward. You’ll have the confidence you need to run that marathon. You’ll feel more optimistic and will use that to encourage your children. Just as airline attendants are encouraged to put their oxygen masks on first so that they can help others, you must care for your emotional health first in order to give back to others. What better time to start than the new year!

Here are some ideas to get you started and to help you see them through.

  • Keep your resolutions positive. Rather than saying, “I’m going to stop being critical” decide that “I’m going to find more positive qualities in others.” It’s much easier to cultivate new habits than to stop an old one.
  • Be specific and realistic. A goal to be more healthy is open ended and could easily discourage you. Being specific and saying that you will eat more vegetables, drink 8 glasses of water a day and work out 3 times a week is both reasonable and specific enough that are likely to follow through.
  • Do it together. Making resolutions with your spouse or a friend provides built-in accountability and support. When a bad day brings the negative thoughts crashing in, a quick phone call to your resolution buddy can help remind you of your goal to be more positive. You can encourage one another and meet those goals together.
  • Have a plan. If your goal is stronger relationships, plan out what relationships you want to focus on and what steps you’re going to take to make it happen. By planning this on a monthly or even weekly basis, you have a clear idea of what you need to do and when.
  • Write it down. Write it on a notecard and post it where you’ll see it often. Seeing it often will keep it fresh in your mind.

When you set goals that enhance your emotional health, you’re setting a solid foundation for any other changes you wish to make in your life. Your quality of life will improve and this will only propel you farther in all of your goals.

Here’s to an emotionally healthy new year!

The Summit Counseling Center
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