Brand New Year, Brand New Resolutions

By Nancy Pollard, LCSW, LLC
Nancy Pollard

Happy New Year!  What a great holiday: no chores to do, cookies to bake, or presents to buy!  A time to relax and catch your breath after the holidays, and to begin anew.

To me there is something awesome about the ending of one year and beginning the next.  It is as if we get another opportunity to forgive mistakes made and to right wrongs; a chance to do it better, do it right, or just plain DO IT at all.  The intention of change is inspirational and presents a fresh start and a clean slate.

January 1 is the beginning of New Year’s resolutions, but unfortunately those resolutions usually get broken.  When January 1st comes and goes and we haven’t yet started on what we swore we’d do, we brush it off and say, “Oh well, I’ll start on Monday.  Really, I will.”  The greatest of intentions slowly go away, dissolving like melting snow.

How can you make your resolutions stick this time?  Why is it that some people achieve their goals while others are only able to talk about them?

“I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna... start my diet on January 1st.”  “My New Year’s resolution is going to be...”  Why is it that we are forever and proverbially GOING TO do something?  Think about it ...GOING TO.  We are GOING TO.  That is precisely the problem.  The problem is in the GOING TO.

Goals are reached when GOING turns into DOING.  Now.  Whenever now is - this Friday, January 1st; Tuesday afternoon; or Thursday at 5:00.  What if you make this your last cigarette, the one that you are smoking now?  Or that hot fudge sundae that you just made, what if you didn’t eat it?  What if you cut up the credit card before you use it for just that ‘one last time’?  Or you went to the gym now instead of tomorrow morning or first thing next week?  Doers do it now.  Talkers talk about ‘going to’ do it…someday.

Even if they blow it once or twice, doers keep on doing; they just start over and keep plugging away at the goal.  Talkers blow it and use that as an excuse to toss in the towel.  If you achieve your goal for one week then fall off the wagon for a day, do you let that become an excuse to give it up all together?  Or do you expect yourself to fall off the wagon, knowing that you are only human, and get back on it again?  At the end of 21 days, if you have succeeded with your goal for 18 days, is that success or failure?

The biggest secret, however, in achieving goals is that you only achieve a goal when you are ready, when you truly want - and make the commitment for - change.  A smoker only stops smoking when he or she wants to be a non-smoker.  An overeater stops overeating when he or she truly wants to not be an overeater. The problem is that most people just talk about wanting to quit smoking or quit overeating when the truth is that they really don’t want to, they just want to talk about wanting to!  Ask any smoker or overeater and they will tell you that they love to smoke or overeat.  They don’t really want to quit; they just know that they should.

When you really don't want to quit smoking or overeating but you chant, "I want to quit smoking, I want to quit overeating," you end up with nothing but empty affirmations.  The moment the urge hits, the affirmation turns into adamant declarations of "I am having that cigarette or that hamburger and fries and no one can stop me!"  “Just one, then I am GOING TO quit.”

Trying to sell yourself on an idea that you don’t really believe in doesn’t work.  Neither does willpower.  With willpower, it is just a matter of time before you blow it.  Diets fail because diet means deprivation, and how long will someone deprive himself or herself of something?  Selling yourself, willpower, and ‘shoulds’ do not work.  ‘Later’ very easily turns into ‘never’.

What turns talk into walk?  What turns dreams into reality? 

  1. Be accurate with what you tell yourself. Try the truth, such as: “I want to want to quit smoking or overeating.” 
  2. Throw out diets and create new eating habits such as: “I don’t eat desserts at night” or “I don’t eat bread with dinner.”
  3. Turn exercise jags into exercise habits as common as brushing your teeth.  “I go to the gym Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays”. 
  4. When you are ready to not be a smoker, declare, “I am a non-smoker” - and mean it.  Make smoking not an option, because you don’t smoke.
  5. Claim the new you!  Say it until you believe it!


When a goal becomes a commitment, it works.  When a commitment becomes a priority, it happens.  And in the end DOING, not GOING TO DO, is the key.  Now is the time.  Nike says it best:  Just Do It.  Happy New Year.

Just a little Mountain Therapy

Copyright © 2015 Nancy Pollard



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