mental health
BY: Aleks Zavlunova

Here’s How to Approach New Year’s Resolutions with a Healthy Mindset

3 tips for setting yourself up for success this New Year, according to a wellness coach

If you intend on setting a New Year’s resolution this year, you’ll be among 40% of adults in the U.S. The top three health-related resolutions people set are to exercise more, eat healthier, and get fit. Unfortunately, only 36% of people continue working toward their resolutions past the first month, and only 9% stick with their goals through the entire year. While there are many reasons why people abandon their New Year’s resolutions, here are some helpful tips to ensure you don’t fall into this category and are successful with your goals this year.

1. Set realistic expectations

A big mistake people make when developing goals for the New Year is having unrealistic expectations, often setting a high bar that is not achievable and in many ways, unattainable for several different reasons. Be realistic — is going to the gym every day for two hours doable? Is cutting out entire food groups to become healthier really the best approach? These kinds of goals are not only unrealistic, but they are also too broad. To set a realistic goal, take stock of your current lifestyle. Get clear on the specifics of your broader goals, then break them down into short-term milestones, i.e. mini goals. Attempting to make massive leaps when you may not have the skills or capacity is a sure way to set yourself up for failure. Instead, create a list of actions you know you can definitely do, and work on creating micro habits along the way.

2. Focus on adding more instead of taking away

Another mistake people make when setting goals is only focusing on all the things they will stop doing or will avoid. This approach is rooted in self-deprivation, which only leads to frustration, resentment, and an inability to stick with your resolutions. To develop a more positive mindset around your goals, think of and list all the things you can do to achieve your goal rather than focusing on all the things you shouldn’t do. Instead of saying, “I will cut out all junk food,” say, “I will add more fruits and vegetables to my diet.” Rather than removing entire food groups from your diet, focus on how you can incorporate all food groups into a healthy, well-rounded diet. Know that there is a way to cultivate a healthier relationship with food that doesn’t require severe calorie cutting and unsustainable restrictions.

3. Learn to love the process and detach from the outcome

Last but not least, when working toward your goals, remember to practice joy along the way. Far too many people attach conditions to their joy and happiness, such as:

  • “I will be happy when I fit into size X jeans”
  • “I’ll finally love myself when…”
  • “I’ll feel confident when…”

This type of thinking deprives you of opportunities to celebrate the small successes along the way toward achieving your end goal. Only focusing on the outcome of a goal can negatively impact your ability to see how amazing the learning process can be, setting you up for constant self-crticism and lowering your confidence. If you learn to love the process of working toward a goal and detach from the outcome, you’ll be able to practice self-love on the way, like accepting yourself exactly as you are now, learning how to set boundaries, and honoring small promises to yourself, all of which have a greater positive effect on your overall mental and physical well-being. Rather than setting a goal of losing weight that involves excessive exercise and severe food restriction, focus on developing healthier eating and exercise habits that have nothing to do with weight loss.

Cultivate a positive mindset around your 2023 resolutions

Regardless of the goals you set for the upcoming year, know that any change is often difficult and messy. Mistakes are inevitable, and you won’t be perfect. But these things are all part of the learning process that’ll help you grow. Remember to practice grace and self-compassion every step along the way toward achieving your goals. Praise yourself for being open to making mistakes, and thank yourself for allowing learning to happen. Cultivating a positive mindset around goals encouraged positive reinforcement and keeps you feeling good about yourself. And when we feel good, we are more likely to stick to our resolutions, even in the face of adversity.

Aleks Zavlunova is a Holistic Behavioral Health and Wellness Coach. Aleks strongly believes that our relationship with food greatly correlates with our relationship with the self, our emotional, physical, and mental well-being, as well as our relationships with others. She combines principles of cognitive behavioral psychology and nutrition psychology along with other philosophies of mental, physical, and spiritual health to help her clients begin healing self-destructive patterns and habits and build self-esteem, confidence, and self-love by systematically improving their relationship with food and body.

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