Talking ’bout a resolution

Talking 'bout a resolution

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Psychologists Dr Nikki Mills and Dr John Baker of Core Clinics and Advance Psychology Services have some expert advice on making your resolutions stick

The new year can be a time for reflection on your past year’s behaviour and a chance, if you wish, to consider making some positive changes.  However, for many of us, our list of New Year Resolutions becomes overwhelming  and before you know it you’ve given up and you’re feeling bad for ‘failing’.

In 2015 the University of Scranton, USA, surveyed 3036 adults and found that 45% of them had made new year’s resolutions.  The top 3 things on the list were to lose weight, get organised and spend less/save more.  Unsurprising then that come January magazines will be filled with diet promotions, gym membership deals, and money saving tips.  What’s more surprising though, is that of the 45% who made resolutions, only 8% considered that they had achieved what they wanted to.

So what can you do to maximise your chances of successful change and be in that 8%?

Here’s our top tips!

~ Understand why you want to make the change.  Without a clear rationale for making a change it is very easy to lose sight of your goal.  Come February telling yourself ‘I will be more organised’ is going to be less motivating than reminding yourself that ‘when I encourage the children to lay out their school uniform and bags the night before I am less likely to shout at them in the morning and the walk to school will feel nicer for us all’.

~ Make your resolutions realistic.  Start small and build up to bigger goals because aiming too high, too soon, is likely to create a sense of disappointment and failure if your goal isn’t achieved.  It might be more realistic, in the first instance, to set yourself the challenge of walking round the block 4 times a week rather than immediately attempting the Solihull half marathon.  You may end up running that event, but get there gradually.

~Focus on one thing at a time.  It’s very tempting to get carried away and list all your faults that you plan on rectifying but, not only does this make you feel inadequate, but who wants to deal with that list all at once! Pick one of the more important, attainable goals for you and start with that one.  Once you gain confidence and develop the skills to succeed then you can apply these strategies to other areas and take it from there.

~Talk about it and ask others for help.  Letting other people know what we are planning helps consolidate the idea in our minds.  It also makes us feel accountable to others which can be motivating for some.  Don’t be afraid to ask for support-it might feel easier to go for a run or attend a new group if you have some company.

Most importantly of all

~Be compassionate to yourself.  Unhelpful habits don’t develop overnight so be patient and be kind to yourself when trying to make positive changes.  There are likely to be set backs or obstacles along the way but reminding yourself that you are trying your best and that it’s ok to have a break now and again can help you to refocus and not be too harsh on yourself.  Try to avoid ‘all or nothing thinking’ and remember that it’s better to do something than nothing

So what are our resolutions for the coming year? And can we take our own advice? Guess time will tell, but we’ll certainly try.

Core Clinics have a team of psychiatrists and psychologists with expertise in all aspects of mental health and in all age groups. To book a consultation or for more information contact Core Clinics on 01926 801111 or

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