One of the more common questions people get around New Years is "What is your New Year's Resolution?" There are some (maybe many) who may roll their eyes at this question.
Many people have their own history of setting New Year's resolutions only to find that after 4-6 weeks they give up on the resolution. One reason this may be is not fully understanding the process in behavior change.
In family therapy, teen counseling, young adult therapy, couples counseling, and marriage therapy, quite often goals are set. The advantage of setting goals in therapy is you have an accountability partner to help to motivate you and overcome roadblocks in your way.
Behavior change takes specific knowledge and understanding to help us to be effective in our goals. What knowledge and understanding are needed? I'm glad you asked!
Below are 3 tips on how to set and achieve goals set for the New Years or anytime during the year.
3 Tips to Help You be Successful in Accomplishing Your Goals
The science behind behavior change revolved largely around understanding a typical course or change and the brain's involvement in behavior change. Below are some tips that can help you accomplish your New Year's goals.
Tip One: Embrace the Journey
Many of us set goals starting off very motivated with the end in mind. We start at "Point A" and expect to drive straight through until we get to our end goal of getting to "Point Z".
Many of us start off strong and motivated. We are finding early success in changing some behavior and committing to it. We are moving to point A, point B, Point C and so on. Then as it will inevitably happen, we take a step or two back.
This is when our motivation may start to wane. We look back at how well we were doing in starting off strong and compare that to the steps back we took. Our motivation may wane as a result.
Yet this is a very normal part of behavior change. It would be great if when starting a new goal, we were able to maintain the ability to not experience setbacks. And setbacks are a normal and natural part of behavior change.
If we can learn to embrace this part of our behavior change journey, we may not be as bummed out when we let the mattress war win one morning and didn't get up to exercise. Or that donut called our name, put us in a trance, and ate the donut when we committed to not eating junk food.
Whatever the goal is, understanding and knowing that behavior change IS three steps forward and one step back, we will be better prepared mentally to stick to our goals.
Tip Two: The Neurons That Fire Together, Wire Together
When we are learning a new skill or habit, it takes some time for it to become routine. The reason for this is that we are creating a new pathway or pathways in the brain.
When we start a new habit, the neurons in our brain start to "fire" based on the new behavior. The more we engage in that new behavior, the more the neurons fire and connect to new neurons in our brain. As we continue, these neurons start to connect more and more over time laying the pathway for that new behavior to become easier.
For example, in my undergrad, I had to walk a ways from the parking lot to the building where my classes were held. There were sidewalks laid down for people to use. However, it was easier and quicker to cut through and walk on the grass.
As people would take this short cut through the grass and walk back and forth, over and over, on the grass, over time a well-worn path was created. No longer was there grass on this pathway but dirt underneath.
The wintertime the same thing happened. It would snow and the first few people to blaze a path through the deep snow had a difficult time trudging that path. But as other people took their same path, the snow became packed and an easy path was created.
As we start a new behavior, it takes time for the neurons in our brain to fire and wire together enough times where it becomes an easy path to walk. Combining this with our understanding that behavior change is not a linear process, this may help us push through those tough times to help the pathway in our brain to be laid down to make the behavior easier.
Tip 3: Have an Accountability Partner
If I have a goal of getting up 5 days a week to exercise, it's much easier to stay in bed and skip the exercise if I set that goal with just myself. If I have a partner who is on board with the same goal and depends on me to get up and exercise with them, I will much more likely get up and exercise on those mornings where I would much rather prefer to stay in bed and get a little extra sleep.
Having a partner who is also committed to the same goal provides another level of motivation. The two of you can motivate each other when there are setbacks. You can also celebrate together the success you have along the way in this journey.
Mental Health as a New Year's Resolution
Many of our New Year's resolutions involve physical needs. Diet, exercise, more self-care, are some of the more common goals that are set.
We provide counseling to address a multitude of struggles such as:
And more . . .
Let this year be the year where you, your teen, young adult, family, or as a couple strengthen the mind and emotions like you would your body. As you focus on both mind and body, you will be able to live your best life!
Katy Teen & Family Counseling: A combined 50+ Years of Experience in Teen Therapy, Young Adult Counseling, Family Therapy, & Marriage Counseling or Couples Therapy
This last year may have been a struggle. With the pandemic the last two years, mental health has been hit hard. If your goals this year include tackling the emotional or behavioral challenges, we can help.
If your New Year's resolution focuses on improving your mental health and you would like to start therapy, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Speak with one of our caring therapists
Let us help you work through the grief and loss to help you find joy and meaning.
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we use counseling approaches that are time tested and shown to work. These approaches have been supported by research and shown to work in the shortest amount of time possible.
Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Couples Therapy & Marriage Counseling
We also provide couples counseling and marriage therapy. There may be no better New Year's resolution than setting goals to improve and strengthen your relationship with your spouse or partner. You've worked hard in your relationship. It is worth fighting for!
Parenting counseling for teen success
Parent counseling for support managing blended families with teens
Co-parenting counseling for divorced parents for teen success
Couples counseling for communication improvement
Marriage counseling to improve trust in the relationship
Couples therapy to address infidelity, unfaithfulness, and more
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker. He specializes in teen therapy, family counseling, and counseling young adults. He has provided therapy to teens, young adults, and families since 2003.
Jason is also a regular contributor to various magazines, publications, and news outlets lending his expertise to various mental health related topics. You can check these articles out on our "Featured Articles" service page on our website.