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New Year, Healthier You: Goal Setting Gives Your Mental Health a Positive Boost

Updated: Jan 5

It’s January again, and with the new year in full effect, many of us like to kick it off with resolutions hoping to make positive changes. Though studies show that nearly 91% of most New Year’s resolutions aren’t successful, the good news is that the very act of setting goals is quite good for your mental health overall. Whether your goals are personal or professional, you improve your productivity, satisfaction, and perception by creating a goal to aim towards. Healthy goal setting brings these benefits even if you cannot accomplish the goals you set.

Setting and achieving goals has the potential to raise your self-esteem and lead to happiness by bringing your hopes to life. Read on for three helpful strategies on how to set and find success with your New Year’s resolutions to boost your mental health this year:

1. Start Small and Keep it Manageable

When we set goals for ourselves, we essentially define our hopes for the future. This is why accomplishing your goals can bring you so much happiness and well-being. To help ensure that you’re successful in meeting your goals this year, start with smaller goals that you can easily integrate into your current routines. For example, say you want to add more body movement into your routine. Instead of promising to hit the gym for one hour every day, a significant effort to start with, you can begin by incorporating 10 minutes of stretching a few times a week. Tie your stretching to another part of your daily routine that you’re already committed to, such as stretching while you wait for your coffee to brew. Once you get used to the smaller habits, you can build them up to your larger goal. This will give you time to work your way up to getting better at your goal instead of expecting perfection immediately and fizzling out when you cannot meet your high standards. As you find success, you may see your confidence grow too.

2. Be Specific and Don’t Be Afraid to Challenge Yourself

Too often, we fall into the trap of setting broad goals that are more about what we want and less about how we can achieve success to become who we want to be. You can avoid this by setting specific goals with clear outcomes and a focused plan to accomplish them. Research has shown that when people set specific and challenging goals, they perform at a higher level 90% of the time. So, increase your motivation and challenge yourself with a specific goal. It can help to set up a way to hold yourself accountable to sticking to your goal, such as relying on a trusted friend to act as your accountability partner and provide support throughout the year. Extra support will help guarantee your success.

3. Keep it Fun and Practice Acceptance

Being inspired by your goals will help keep you motivated and excited as you work towards them. Choose resolutions that encourage you to be the best version of yourself while allowing you some fun as you pursue your goal. While some goals may be too outside your comfort zone to make the process exciting, you can still choose fun ways to track your goal progress or even reward yourself with incentives.

Inevitably, you will stumble on the journey. That’s okay! These are good times to practice acceptance and self-forgiveness. If you fall off track, accept what has happened and try not to dwell on it because that can lead to feeling guilty. Instead, focus on what you’ve learned so far and how you can improve going forward. You may find it helpful to keep a journal of your efforts, noting any setbacks, how they make you feel, and how you plan to make changes to better reach your goals. Remember: good enough is good enough, and all progress is good progress. Work through setbacks by creating a plan, and don't forget to celebrate your wins along the way!

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