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How to set goals that will last through next New Year

"Building upon a love you already have will be much easier than starting from nothing and building a love for it."

sheet of paper that says "To Do List" on a clipboard next to an uncapped pen and a MacBook
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

April Showers bring May flowers but before that January aspirations seem to bring February dissatisfactions. If you set more resolutions than you can handle this year, pick a few that mean the most to you and focus on them. Are you aiming to be kinder to yourself this year? On top of reading more books, hitting the gym, doing community service, and more? Start small and with what you enjoy.

Said Dr. Ayelet Fishbach for Psychology Today, "Enjoyment is critical for following through with resolutions because [we] respond strongly to immediate outcomes. If doing something makes you feel good while you do it, you're more likely to persist than if you think it’ll make you feel good in the future.” This is being intrinsically motivated.

Intrinsic motivation is a power that comes from within. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be kinder or do more service, build some muscle, or learn a new skill, but what's your why? Dr. Matt Johnson for Psychology Today wrote: “People who are intrinsically motivated to run do so because they simply love the act of running itself. It feels like an important part of your identity, and you love the act of it itself — regardless of anything that can come of it.”

Building upon a love you already have will be much easier than starting from nothing and building a love for it. The latter isn’t impossible, but will certainly have a higher chance of stumbling blocks.

Setting and achieving goals is difficult without an added layer of a mental illness such as depression. When making goals, it's important to remember these 3 things:


  • If you aren’t making your bed at all, jumping from nothing to everything will be difficult and failure is almost always imminent. Give yourself credit for a couple of days a week and build on that – by the end of the year, you’ll be doing it every day! Remember: slow and steady wins the race.


  • Goal setting doesn't need to be based on negativity. We can desire to be better while still appreciating the many good things we already do! Our mindset can hold us back from our full potential, so be sure when setting goals to be kind and give yourself the credit you deserve.


  • While research has shown that telling large numbers of people your goals can lead to you being less likely to accomplish them, new studies find that this is not necessarily true if you tell a few people you truly trust. Asking someone whose opinion you value (a close friend, family member, or a therapist) to check in on you periodically about your goals can transform the process for you and be another source of motivation.
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