It’s almost January 1st and you know what that means: it’s time to set our New Year’s resolutions.

Now, I’m not a huge believer (do you know, I almost wrote Belieber?!) in setting resolutions for an entire year. I’m good at setting my resolutions with the best possible intent and even write them out so I know what’s expected of me. The problem is twofold. A) I set about 20 resolutions and B) I don’t recognize the HOW part of the resolutions. My 20 resolutions are often things like “I’m going to be a smarter person” and “I’m going to eat healthy” and well, the other 18 are pretty repetitive. The final problem is that I become overwhelmed with all of these goals so when I inevitably slip on January 2nd with 19 of my goals, I give them up completely. The all or nothing effect.

Part of me would like to set a resolution to have no resolutions this year but the other part sees this great “new” opportunity to change my life for the better.

So, this year my resolution is to stick to one goal per month. Stating that I will never do something for an entire year is not an effective way to change. (Trust me, I’ve been doing this religiously for 17 years.) And if I “screw up” one day then I am giving myself permission to get back on track the next day. Because this is our lives we are setting resolutions for. We are setting them for the purpose of making our lives better, not judging ourselves because we have failed at something, yet again. A happy life is not focusing on our failures, but learning from them and moving on.

So, I know all of my fan club is just dying to know what January’s resolutions will be for me…And that is to be nicer- to myself. I am so critical of myself- even as I type this I am thinking about how pretentious and ridiculous I sound- but I would never judge others as critically. (Unless of course it is a celebrity. Then they are just asking to be judged because they’re famous and rich. Deal with it, people.) Okay, so I have my goal and I could leave it at that but this is where we go wrong with our resolutions. We forget to include exact details of what we can do every day to bring us closer to our goals. I originally thought of a 31 day challenge from Pinterest where each day you do something new and amazing but this is much too complicated to figure out a week and a half before January 1st. So, this January I am going to be nicer to myself by writing down three things every day that I have handled well and am proud of myself for. (But if I miss a day, or even (gasp) TWO, then I will just restart from when I realize I conveniently forgot.) It’s not going to be an easy feat, but I think that changing some negatives to positives will help to battle my self-deprecating comments I constantly make to myself. And for the rest of the year? I will decide a week and a half before each month and make it relevant to how I am doing at that time.

Tips to help you this year:

  • Starting your resolution with “I will always” or “I will never” is setting yourself up for failure. Be real and know that unless you are a resolution superhero you will falter like the rest of us. But that doesn’t mean you give up on your goal because of one slip. A famous anonymous quote: “Giving up on your goal because of one setback is like slashing your other three tires because you got a flat.”
  • Remember to plan for the how part of the resolution. Simply stating “I will be a size whatever” is not going to help you reach this goal. You have to think about what it will take to get to this achievement. (And just for the record, I in no way endorse making get skinny goals for the year. In fact, I encourage you to address the underlying issue such as “I will work on being healthy by going to my doctor appointments, by walking for a half an hour each day”, etc. and understand why this skinny goal is so valuable to you.)
  • Finally, don’t overlook your successes each month- as small as they may be. If you could magically change all your bad habits overnight then don’t you think you would have done so by now? Give yourself some space to see what works for you and how you can maximize your potential. (Now I am judging myself for sounding preachy, so I am just going to finish this blog and start being nice to myself for the latter end of 2015 and then on January 1st 2016 I will be able to reflect on how nice I was to myself for the last few days of 2015.)

I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2016!

About the Author

Tara Richardson is a Peer Support Specialist at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby, Ontario. Her own personal journey through mental illness has led her to be a passionate and dedicated advocate for mental health recovery. Tara is an aspiring author who is in the (long) process of writing and editing her memoir compiled from journal entries beginning at age 11. Tara has a B.A. in Psychology, a diploma in Social Service Work, and a certificate in Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Tara can be contacted at: tara_richardson913@hotmail.com Non-creepy fan mail gladly welcomed.