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Setting Realistic New Year's Resolutions

At the break of the New Year, amidst the festivities and joy, every human mind is occupied with contemplating their own New Year's resolutions. Questions such as "Will I be capable of achieving this?", "I genuinely need this, but is it within reach?", and "What if I lose motivation in the midst of it all?" are prevalent, leading us to engage in a fluctuating game of adopting and abandoning resolutions.

But how can we establish realistic New Year's resolutions, and how can we sustain motivation throughout the year? Let's explore this from the perspective of a clinical psychologist.


"Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes."

- Carl Jung

One key aspect of effective resolution-setting is to shift your focus from external expectations to internal fulfillment, as mentioned in the above quote by the famous psychologist, Carl Jung. Look within yourself, at your core values, your personality, and your needs before making a New Year resolution so that it resonates with your authentic inner self. Decades of studies emphasize the importance of intrinsic motivation in sustaining behavior change (Deci & Ryan, 1985).

To embark on this journey, it is crucial to first identify your own personal values. Clinical psychologists emphasize the importance of introspection and self-awareness in this process. What truly matters to an individual? What brings a sense of joy, fulfillment, and purpose? These questions pave the way for resolutions that are not only realistic but also deeply meaningful. Research indicates that individuals who connect their goals to their values exhibit higher levels of commitment and perseverance (Koestner, Losier, Vallerand, & Carducci, 1996).

Maintaining motivation throughout the year becomes another challenge. Studies suggest that involving friends, family, or a supportive community in the pursuit of goals enhances adherence and success rates (Borrelli, 2011). Regular check-ins with a trusted friend or mentor is an advocated strategy, which also aligns with research on self-monitoring and its positive impact on goal achievement (Kanfer & Gaelick-Buys, 1991). You can also make your resolution public using social media or word of mouth to get support from friends and family.

One should also set goals following the SMART strategy, which suggests that goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This approach helps us make individualized goals instead of following some general goals like losing weight, stopping smoking, or reading a book once a month, etc.

Don’t forget to take help from technology to reach your goals in this digital era. Download useful and specific apps, use digital resources available online free of cost, and make the best use of everything to overcome obstacles.

Ultimately, unleashing the power of purpose transforms New Year's resolutions from mere annual rituals into catalysts for enduring personal growth. By aligning goals with core values, breaking them down into manageable steps, fostering a support system, maintaining a growth mindset, and adhering to the SMART criteria and using technology, individuals can embark on a journey that transcends fleeting aspirations, leading to a more fulfilling and sustainable transformation. As the calendar turns, let the essence of purpose guide the way, making this New Year an opportunity for genuine and lasting change.


Borrelli, B. (2011). The assessment, monitoring, and enhancement of treatment fidelity in public health clinical trials. Journal of Public Health Dentistry, 71(s1), S52-S63.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. Plenum Press.

Kanfer, F. H., & Gaelick-Buys, L. (1991). Self-monitoring: Methodological limitations and clinical applications. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59(2), 259-273.

Koestner, R., Losier, G. F., Vallerand, R. J., & Carducci, D. (1996). Identified and introjected forms of political internalization: Extending self-determination theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(5), 1025-1036.

Diana Sherin Gomez, Clinical Psychologist

8 January 2024


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