Meaningful Resolutions: Creating Positive Change in the New Year

By Jane Nath, MSN, CNM, WHNP-BC

Even if you haven’t physically written down any New Year’s resolutions, it’s likely that with December coming to a close, you’ve been thinking about changes you might want to make in the year to come. New Year’s is a great time for self-reflection and growth, and for some people, it can create the opportunity they need to start a heathy habit. However, all too often, New Year’s resolutions can perpetuate a cycle of procrastination, perceived failure, and shame. Today we will discuss how to create more effective and thoughtful resolutions for lasting, positive change. 

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. If this applies to you, another January might mean the start of a big diet, a gym membership, and taking a new round of “before” pictures in front of the mirror. You might feel energized and excited for a few days or weeks, then quickly tire of the restricted foods you’ve been eating or miss a day’s workout, and the whole plan falls apart. You feel ashamed of yourself and in response, turn to food or time relaxing on the couch for comfort. This cycle may also sound familiar to those who have struggled with other big changes, such as trying to reduce spending or cutting out all processed foods. These kinds of resolutions are very challenging and based on shame, and therefore, they have little chance of inspiring longterm results. 

To improve this year’s resolutions, spend some time thinking about yourself and the habits you want to create in positive terms. Maybe you love the feeling you get after an afternoon of physical activity, or the satisfaction of cooking a meal for your family from scratch. Then, think about how to manifest these positive outcomes: for example, can you resolve to start a subscription for a produce delivery service to expand your cooking horizons, or join a pickup league for a sport you’ve always wanted to try? Even better, try to make your resolutions realistic and measurable. Incremental changes are more likely to stick, and the feeling of satisfaction you get from accomplishing your goal will inspire further small changes, multiplying your success. Let’s say you resolve to swap your daily afternoon soda for a seltzer water with fruit. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but achieving it will give you a boost of self esteem and positive energy, which might radiate into other areas of your life: maybe you will feel motivated to walk home from work that day, or to cook a balanced dinner. These changes will add up over time to create bigger results for your health and happiness.

Reframing your resolutions into positive, incremental, and sustainable changes is your best chance for making them last after January comes and goes. Nurture your sense of accomplishment this year rather than setting yourself up for a cycle of disappointment and shame. If you are ready to get help making changes in your life, big or small, contact us today to make an appointment.

Happy New Year’s!


If you want to read more about habits and motivation, check out the following books:

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg (https://charlesduhigg.com/the-power-of-habit/)

Atomic Habits, by James Clear (https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits)