A new year brings new motivation to keep our list of resolutions. But as January continues, it becomes harder to stick to our goals and easier to think maybe next year will be the time to achieve them. We spoke to two DC-based life coaches about how to reframe your resolutions for changes that can last throughout 2023.
Try shifting to a one-word resolution
Sara Oliveri Olumba, owner of Sara Oliveri Coaching, says her favorite resolution technique is one she learned from a psychologist friend: the one-word resolution. Start by reflecting on the last year, considering the positive moments and the things you would have changed. Then, think of one word to encapsulate how you want to feel in the year ahead.
For her word, Oliveri Olumba selected “centered.” She is trying to remain undisturbed by minor irritations that could get in the way of her happiness each day. Choosing a word that can apply to situations throughout the year means success isn’t reduced to achieving a narrow goal. “Sometimes resolutions feel rather limiting,” says Oliveri Olumba says. “They can lack sensitivity to the ways in which your year might be playing out that are unexpected.”
Break it down
Jim Weinstein, a DC-based career coach and psychotherapist, suggests starting small to achieve big goals. For example, rather than abruptly quitting drinking, he suggests slimming down to one drink a night. “You have to choose something that is realistic,” Weinstein says. Integrating small changes into your life will provide a road map towards achieving your larger resolution.
Mind your mind
According to Weinstein, adhering to resolutions is less about behavior and more about mental state. He suggests framing your goals around a concrete example of past success and visualizing those moments for motivation. Think about the time you finished a challenging work project or cut back on drinking, and use that example to fuel your latest aspiration. “You’ve got to be able to start from a place that says, ‘I can do this,’” Weinstein says.
Staying positive will also fuel your resolve. Oliveri Olumba holds a masters degree in positive psychology, studying the science of optimism. She recommends celebrating and savoring moments of success, rather than dwelling on failures. “[Optimists] don’t blame it all on themselves,” says Oliveri Olumba. “If there’s a part that they’re responsible for, sure, they take responsibility, but they also give themselves grace.”
While resolutions often encompass specific, measurable goals, Oliveri Olumba opts for a broader approach. For example, she recommends striving to do some kind of movement each day instead of committing to 45 minutes of cardio three times a week. “The goals that are most easy to be successful at are goals that require you to only make one decision every day,” says Oliveri Olumba.
Sure, a friend might hit their marathon goal before you build up to running a mile. Or maybe your co-worker is crushing their resolution to limit screen time while you’re still scrolling on TikTok before bed. While it’s great if someone else’s success motivates you, Oliveri Olumba says the focus on others should stop there. Once you’ve set a goal, focus solely on your own progress. You might even be an inspiration to others.