We all probably have mixed feelings about new year's resolutions. Although they seem like a great idea at the time, they can quickly fade from our list of daily priorities and ultimately set us up for disappointment.
The benefit of resolutions has to do with the power of prospective thinking, or “the mental representation and evaluation of possible futures”. Which, in short, means viewing the future as a blank canvas. Research in positive psychology has shown that when we set aside time to imagine future possibilities, we are pulled by the future rather than pushed by the past and we are better able to tap into our full potential.
So when you look honestly at them, what’s happened to your personal health and wellness goals since new year? Maybe you’ve successfully managed to make your resolutions into a habit, but if you’re one of the majority who haven’t then making mid-year resolutions could be the reset you need.
Back to prospective thinking - it requires a mix of planning, prediction and daydreaming - the last of which is often sadly disregarded. Dreaming of possible futures frees us from the fatalism of assuming the past determines our fate. In other words, just because your new year’s resolutions didn't stick, it doesn’t mean you can’t plan more achievable mid-year resolutions.
According to Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, the ability to contemplate the future is what makes us human. Our brains naturally continue to rewrite the past because doing so allows us to envision a new future. Our narrative is an evolving work-in-progress.
What will help you to stick to your new goals is making them SMART. That’s an acronym coined in the journal Management Review in 1981 for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
One easy resolution to achieve is a focus on preventative healthcare. If you’ve been letting things like your annual wellness visit with your primary care physician or your annual skin check with your dermatologist slip while we’ve all had our lives on pandemic hold, there’s no better time than now to make those appointments.
Start where you are and do what you can.
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