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Why your New Year’s resolution might be doing more harm than good

The new year can be the start of so many new opportunities for Utahns. It’s also the time for New Year’s resolution — for better and worse.

Dr. Matt Woolley, a licensed psychologist for the University of Utah, spoke about the unrealistic expectations that come with a New Year’s resolution on the Project Recovery podcast.

The truth behind the New Year’s resolution

Millions of Americans say they have made or thought about a New Year’s resolution or some alternative for the year.

When asked about what his New Year’s resolution was, Dr. Woolley was quick to point out where he stood on the topic.

“I don’t do them,” Dr. Woolley said. “Because they don’t work. They set you up to feel disappointed and then you do worse.”

At its core, the resolution should be an opportunity to promote growth and positivity. But for those who set unrealistic expectations around their resolutions, it can actually be unhelpful to their growth.

“If you look at statistics on general populations, it’s discouraging. It’s a great way to discourage yourself,” Dr. Woolley said.

Some estimates show that almost 80% of resolutions fail by the beginning of February.

Setting yourself up to fail

One of the biggest reasons resolutions fail so often is because we set ourselves up to fail according to Dr. Woolley.

“You set unrealistic expectations and then you feel discouraged about ten days later,” he said.

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try and better ourselves or create positive change in our lives.

Dr. Woolley encourages a more long-term and behavioral approach to setting goals.

“By changing how you think about it, you can make a mistake and keep going. New Year’s resolutions set up this all-or-nothing policy that people have with their goals,” Dr. Woolley.

Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives to New Year’s resolutions that are just as productive.

Helpful alternatives to the New Year’s resolution

Set up year-long goals for yourself: Creating year-long goals for yourself gives you the opportunity to fail and pick right back up. Compared to a New Year’s resolution, it’s a lot more forgiving. It also promotes behavioral change which is far more likely to stay with you in the long-term.

Make a plan: An easy way to stick with your goals is to create a plan that outlines exactly what and how you’ll achieve said goals. Whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly plan, you’ll be able to go back to it to track and analyze whether or not it’s working how it should be. If it’s not you can easily make adjustments that better align fit your lifestyle.

Create healthy habits: Whether it’s eating healthier, being more active, or becoming more focused on what you want, creating healthy habits is paramount to promoting growth and change. By making small adjustments in your life, you give yourself the opportunity to welcome and adhere to those changes. Which in turn, can have a massive impact over the course of the year.

Listen to the podcast to learn more about alternatives to the New Year’s resolution

For more information on opioid prevention or if you or someone you know is struggling, you can find more information on Facebook, KSL TV, or Know Your Script. To hear more from Casey Scott and Dr. Matt Woolley, you can listen below or subscribe to the ‘Project Recovery’ podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get major podcasts.

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