You’re bursting with plans and ideas for 2019 and have a list of resolutions you know you’ll achieve this year (even though last year didn’t work out quite as you’d planned). Are you fooling yourself or should you change the way you approach the new year?

We chat to counselling psychologist Nthabiseng Ramothwala about whether or not you should set resolutions and how to deal with unmet goals.

Defining resolutions
Ramothwala stresses the need to differentiate between resolutions and goals. “Resolutions are things that you wish to achieve or change in a period of time. They are not goals and therefore do not have proper plans,” she explains. “When you make resolutions, you’re not setting yourself up for failure, but putting your wishes down and mentally committing to doing something to achieve them.”

Ramothwala says making resolutions can have the following positive and negative consequences:

Pros

  • Making resolutions may force you to work towards a certain goal.
  • Resolutions become your benchmark for your performance for the year.

Cons

  • Resolutions are not goals. Unless they are paired with goals and a proper plan of how to achieve them, they willl remain just wishes.
  • You may be discouraged when the year doesn’t work out as you’d hoped.

Resolution tips
Ramothwala offers advice when setting attainable resolutions:

  • When making resolutions, let them be realistic and achievable within a year.
  • Let them be part of your bigger goals or short/medium-term plans.
  • Design a goal plan with milestones that you can evaluate.
  • Share them with someone who will motivate you, should you slag behind.
  • Take ownership of your resolutions. Don’t do what others do or what other people want you to do.
  • Be committed and enthusiastic

Resolution setbacks
It’s easy to feel despondent if you don’t make your resolutions reality. “If you don’t attain your resolutions, assess why you could not and make a back-up plan,” says Ramothwala. “Don’t be too hard on yourself and rather start afresh. Stay on course, regardless of how hard it may be. Should you fall off, get on the horse again and never pressurise yourself. Have a personal pace not determined by others, and enjoy the journey!”