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A resolution in making New Year’s Resolutions

The thing that everybody forgets about New Year’s resolutions is it doesn’t necessarily have to start at the beginning of a new year.

In 2022 (crumbs, it feels weird saying that!) the third Monday of January is January 17.  This date is often dubbed as Blue Monday because this is the point where a lot of people find that their motivation feels zapped and those eager New Year’s Resolutions that they set themselves at the start of the year or just before then are feeling a little bit tiresome and are running a bit flat.

Most new years resolutions fail because:

  1. The goal it’s about societies ideas or someone else’s idea so it isn’t really about you
  2. It’s too vague are poorly defined
  3. There is no plan to help you to get there


Make the goal meaningful

This may sound obvious – it’s really important that whatever goal you set is important to you.

One thing that I’ve found has been helping me a lot is making sure that my goal is meaningful to me.  There are times when I need to walk up a lot of stairs and it helps not have achey knees!  A lot of my goal, a weight-loss goal, was to do with improved health rather than looking a certain way.

Ultimately intrinsic reasons (that is, reasons that are personally important to you) have much more power behind them than extrinsic reasons (that is, doing things solely for the benefit of others).


Get inspired

I’ve become really inspired by my friend who works at the Museum.  He spends a lot of his days dressed up as a Roman soldier when he’s not in the museum uniform. Lockdown has made it more difficult for him to get to where he works because some of the public transport he uses was discontinued, so he has done an awful lot more walking than before. 

He’d put up a photo on social media. I hadn’t seen him for a few months. The difference was so substantial that I didn’t recognise him straight away.

I’d also read about an actor who had returned to playing a role he hadn’t played for around a decade and he wasn’t sure if you’d fit into the costume.  He’d just about managed and when I thought about how I am now compare to how it was then I knew that wouldn’t work for me!

Then I found a photo of me from 10 years ago, compared it to myself now and thought, “oh dear…”

I’ve been using these as inspiration for the motivation.


Get specific

Outside of my main day job I work as a counsellor (MBACP) and a coach and what I often find myself telling people is, when they’re talking in more general terms, is that it’s far more helpful to focus on specifics because specific things are things that we can do something with.

If what you desire is really fluffy and vague it’s not going to be solid and tangible.  When you have a clear idea of your ideal state, that is, what you want, you know a lot more of the detail that goes with it.  You know what it looks like to yourself and how it feels and what the things you expect to accompany that are.  You are more easily able to step into that future projection and you can have a really clear idea of what you were aiming towards.  From there, starting with the end in mind, you can then work backwards to now to have a clear plan on how to get there.


Have a plan

You may have heard of SMART goals before. They tend to it really well as long as you’re not putting excessive pressure on yourself. A big part of smart goals is understanding when you’ve got there, no knowing when you’ve achieved your desired outcome.

A Smart goal is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable (as in realistic)
  • Relevant (as in it matters to you)
  • Time-bound


When I’ve worked on SMART goals with people a lot of them push against sticking a timeframe on their objectives.  They say, “I’m going to do this” and my response is usually along the lines of, “Great! When are you going to do this?”

For me, I have become quite podgy over lockdown compare to how I was before.  My goal because of that is to lose some weight and to get some extra exercise in.  Over the two and a half months in the run-up to Christmas I’d managed to lose 10 kg which is about 1.5 stone.

To do this I used an app called My Fitness Pal.  Other apps are also available.  I’ve been using it to log my calorie intake and the walks and exercise I do.  It prompted me to make sure I’m not eating too much or too little.  If I exercise more I get more hungry – I get to eat more, because my body will need more fuel.  Sometimes I still feel hungry, so I eat more but don’t go overboard.  I start to learn what is both nutritious and filling.


Find your Tribe

It’s much easier to do something if there are people rooting for you.

It’s also much easier to do something if you are accountable to someone.  We don’t enjoy breaking bad news and telling someone that we are going to do something and then not doing it doesn’t come with a good feeling.

If you’re looking for someone to be an accountability partner for you make sure it’s someone that you trust and who you know has your best interests at heart.  There can be a lot of people who are very eager to offer up unsolicited advice that is neither relevant to you nor particularly helpful.

Remember that you are working on your goal because of things that you care about.  Not everybody is going to understand that and sometimes the feedback can be dismissive or even brutal, but you know your “why”, so hold onto that.


Determination rather than motivation

I knew that Christmas would be a challenging time, with all the treats available and people who would otherwise be supportive encouraging me to be bad.  I know that during these days what has been helping me more is determination rather than motivation.  My motivation is been pretty poor at times.  In a lot of ways consistency has been the key.


What if you backslide?

There are times when with whatever you set yourself to do you will backslide.

I’ve done it when I’ve suddenly gained half a kilo and wondered “where did that come from?!”

Be determined – just keep taking those continuous small steps to get to where you want to be.

Imagine a spiral staircase going upwards.  If you don’t like staircases imagine a coil or a slinky toy.  You start at the base and you gradually work your way upwards.

If you find that you move downwards a little, more often than not you can find that you end up being really harsh at yourself and berating yourself for being an idiot since so on and so forth.  This is why I mentioned not putting excess pressure on yourself – that’s not gonna help you. What you need is compassion for yourself because you are trying something new.  If something doesn’t go as planned, as long as you can take some learning from it, even if it’s never to do it like that again, then you have gained something.

Also, remember to recognise all the progress that you’ve made up until that point.  If you’ve managed to something successfully before then you’re likely to be able to do something successfully again.  When you back slide it’s worth remembering that you have some knowledge and experience behind you and this time around you are not starting from scratch.


Parting thoughts

Whatever it is that you choose to do to improve yourself or your situation remember what it’s like when you give compassion to someone else who is struggling and remember to be able to give that level of compassion to yourself as well when you need it.  You’re worth it.



Article written by Emma Ross.

Emma is a CCHA tenant. She has worked as a counsellor for Mind for 7 years, and has also worked in GP surgeries for the Cardiff & Vale NHS in Ely and on an Employee Assistance Program. You can find her on social media @WorkSmartLiveHappy


Disclaimer: All opinions and thoughts are solely the author’s, and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the website or its affiliates.