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Every year we sit down in the last few days of the year and write out our New Year’s resolutions. Determined to stick to them, the pressure begins to build from January 1st. While some New Year’s resolutions can encourage positive change, they are often too vague or ambitious and result in feelings of stress when trying to complete them.

Setting goals is a great start to self-improvement and when realistic, can encourage positive habits and a great sense of achievement when they have been successfully completed. However, unless the goals set are clear and specific, sometimes not knowing where to start can make it unattainable. Locke and Latham (2013) have thoroughly investigated goal setting and achievement, and found that when people set specific goals with clear steps this resulted in greater achievement of their goals.

It can be hard to decide where to begin when thinking about our goals for the New Year, however research by Aked (2011) can help as a starting point. They suggest 5 Steps we can take which can improve our wellbeing, and what better time to start than the New Year?

  • Connect: Invest in time with people around you, whether that be family, friends or colleagues.
  • Be Active: Research studies have shown that physical activity plays an important role in managing mental health difficulties (Paluska & Schwenk, 2000)
  • Take Notice: Reflecting on your days and awareness of your surroundings can enhance your self-understanding.
  • Learn: By setting specific goals to learn something new, whether it be a new recipe or a new language, this can increase our self-esteem and wellbeing through a sense of achievement.
  • Give: Volunteering and helping others has been associated with an increase in wellbeing.

By setting clear and specific goals to meet even one of these 5 steps may help turn the dreaded New Year’s resolutions into positive achievements and improved mental wellbeing.

References:

Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (Eds.). (2013). New developments in goal setting and task performance. Routledge.

Aked, J. (2011). Five ways to wellbeing: new applications, new ways of thinking. New Economics Foundation.

Paluska, S. A., & Schwenk, T. L. (2000). Physical activity and mental health. Sports medicine29(3), 167-180.