Be Kind to Yourself

New years's resloutions

As we near the end of another year and gear up for the next one, many people will make New Year’s resolutions. Are you one of them?

In one national survey, 41% of Americans stated that they usually make resolutions, but less than 10% of those who made resolutions in 2017 felt like they were successful in achieving their goal. One month into the New Year, over one-third of resolution-makers had already abandoned their goals.

For those who stuck it out, what was the secret to their success? Positive self-talk may be one strategy.

We’re all familiar with the golden rule “Treat others the way you would like to be treated.” But what about treating yourself the way you would like to be treated? Too often, especially when we are working to make lifestyle changes, we berate ourselves with negative self-talk. For example, perhaps you are trying to be more physically active and you skip an evening workout. Do you find yourself saying “I’m lazy” or “I’m a failure”? Next time you catch yourself in negative self-talk, stop and ask yourself two questions:

  1. Is what I said true?
  2. Would I say the same thing to someone else?

The answer to the first question is probably not. Falling off track one time does not make you a failure. There is always opportunity to try again the next day. All-or-nothing thinking and overgeneralization are often a part of negative self-talk. If you find that you are saying these sort of things to yourself, try to find a middle ground and an opportunity to encourage change.

If the answer to the second question is no, it’s time to replace your negative self-talk with more encouraging words. Try to find the silver-lining in your situation and give yourself some grace. If you find that you are consistently berating yourself, it may be helpful to spend time with positive people to learn how to adopt a more positive outlook.

Another strategy for sticking with your New Year’s resolutions is to phrase them as SMART goals and write them down. Set goals for yourself that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-oriented and attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

In the national survey on New Year’s Resolutions cited above, people who explicitly made resolutions were ten times more likely to attain their goals than those who did not make clear and specific resolutions. So, set clear goals, write them down, and tell yourself “I can do it!”

WRITTEN BY: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County

REVIEWED BY: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County