We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Shutterstock/Brian A Jackson

Opinion Keeping a new year’s resolution can be difficult – here’s how you can succeed

Don’t worry if you’ve slipped up a little – get back up and try again.

THIS IS THE time of year when many people seek to make positive changes in their lives – be it giving up smoking or drinking, losing weight or exercising more. It’s no surprise, then, to see so many people out running or joining gyms in January, but unfortunately, these well-intentioned resolutions have a limited lifespan. Come February or March, many people have gone back to their bad old ways and their new-year’s resolutions are forgotten about until 1st January rolls around again. Why does this happen?

You could ascribe some of it to a lack of discipline, but it’s more likely explained by a failure to plan for what lies ahead. These are, after all, major lifestyle changes and they need to be thought through before one embarks on them. In the same way that you look up a route when driving to an unfamiliar place, people who make new-year’s resolutions should first think about where they are now, where they want to reach and how they are going to get there.

To help you along the way, first of all write down your goals and the plan that you have to achieve them. When doing this, detail each small step that you need to take to achieve your goal.

It is also important that your goal is specific and not too broad. For example, instead of setting an open-ended goal like ‘I want to lose weight this year’, a more appropriate target would be to try to lose three kilos.

Equally, there is no point in seeking to achieve unrealistic or unattainable goals or in trying to achieve a number of goals all at the same time. Taking on too much at once could easily demoralise someone who has resolved to make a positive change in their life. There is no doubt that change is good, but too much of it at once is not beneficial.

It is also important to be conscious about the pace of change; it is far more preferable to make slow and steady progress through-out the year and not to expect change to happen overnight. In fact, the opposite is true; the bigger the goal, the smaller the steps you should take to reach it. Each step, however small, will bring you closer to your goal – it may make for slow progress, but it’s better than no progress.

Taking slower steps will make the journey longer and along the way you are likely to have a few slip-ups. This is to be expected and it should not be viewed negatively or equated with failure. If you do have a slip-up, don’t criticise it too much and instead try to see the positive aspects of what you’re doing. Irrespective of new-year resolutions, we all have bad days in our private and professional lives and don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t stick 100% to your plan.

One of the most effective ways of overcoming a slip-up is to keep a daily record of the progress that you make. If you have a bad day, compare it to all of the good days and it will very quickly look insignificant. This will also give you the confidence and motivation to continue on your journey.

It’s also vital that when you make a new-year’s resolution that you receive support from your family and friends. As they are the people closest to you, they can play a big role in helping you achieve your resolution. With their backing, you can achieve whatever goal you set. If you haven’t done so yet, make a resolution today and enjoy your journey to positive change.

Shane Kelly is spokesman with the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. For a list of accredited counsellors and psychotherapists in your area, visit

12 New Year’s resolutions every 20-something should make

Column: New Year’s resolutions are dreams – and anyone can achieve their dreams

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.