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When New Year’s Resolutions Bump Up Against Reality

new year resolutions 2 bigstA New Year! What a perfect opportunity to turn bad habits into good ones. So, this year you will eat less, exercise more; spend less, save more.

And if you’re really gung ho, when frustrated you’ll act less annoyed, more agreeable; when confused you’ll be less perplexed, more patient.

Yeah, right!

If you’re in the 99% category (and I’m not talking about your finances), you will renege on these resolutions by the end of the month. Or sooner. And how do you think that will make you feel? A bit disheartened, I assume. Since New Years’ resolutions delivers an optimistic view of your future (yes, I’ll do it!), what message do you think failing to meet those goals delivers to your psyche?

So what’s a person to do? Feel despondent and discouraged? Give up on any plan for self-improvement? Accept that you’ll never be able to alter your habits? Recognize that you’re just a wimp of a person with no willpower?

Umm… I don’t think so.

Since stamping out old habits is truly difficult, to be successful, you must begin with a bedrock of benevolent beliefs about yourself. Only then, will your attempt to delve into the dirty and dusty parts of you be triumphant.

So, let’s begin with my top 10 exemplary types of resolutions:

  1. I will believe that I am good enough. Hence, I am worthy of love and respect — from myself as well as others.  
  2. I will acknowledge that I am a work in progress. I may not be everything I want to be in the future; yet, I can take pride in who I am right now.
  3. I will switch my negative narrative (“I can’t do this.”) to a positive one (“But one thing I can do is …”).
  4. I will remind myself that no matter how challenging my struggles are, I have much to be grateful for.
  5. When I feel vulnerable and lost, I will seek understanding and connection, rather than numbing myself with drugs, drink or food.
  6. I will appreciate the best in myself rather than comparing myself to others, taking note of how I fall short.
  7. I will feed my thirst for knowledge by being curious, learning more about what piques my interest.
  8. I will remind myself that there is no easy way through life’s worst moments; but those moments won’t last forever, and I won’t always feel so alone.
  9. I will reward myself at each milestone I achieve, no matter how small it may seem to others.
  10. I will scale back on all the things I think I “have” to do, so I can make time for  many of the things I “want” to do.

What do you think of these types of resolutions? I like them a lot better than the resolutions most people make. Here’s why:

When you truly accept and respect yourself, you’re more likely to actually make the meaningful modifications you desire. This approach works a lot better than honing in on all the awful habits you have and promising yourself (ha, ha) that you will get rid of them.


When New Year’s Resolutions Bump Up Against Reality

Linda Sapadin, Ph.D

Dr. Linda Sapadin, psychologist, success coach and author is proud to announce the publication of her new book, Overcoming Your Procrastination: College Student Edition – Advice for 6 Personality Styles available on Amazon. Now more than ever with remote learning, this book is a must-have. If you’re a perfectionist, dreamer, worrier, crisis-maker, defier or please, grab your copy. No longer a student? Get my book How to Beat Procrastination in the Digital Age – 6 Change Programs for 6 Personality Styles. Visit to subscribe to my free e-newsletter. Contact her at

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APA Reference
Sapadin, L. (2018). When New Year’s Resolutions Bump Up Against Reality. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 5 Jan 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.