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The beginning of a new year always marks a time for establishing new goals and habits. There is an instinctual pull from within to try to start fresh and better ourselves, and these resolutions help us do just that.

This year, as the COVID-19 crisis persists and people subsequently continue to face physical and mental health challenges, establishing new rhythms is even more important to keeping us stable. However, after a year of canceled plans and loss, maintaining resolutions may be more difficult than ever before. We are providing tips to help you maintain your resolutions no matter what obstacles come your way.

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Make them actionable. When a new year arrives, we often get caught up in the excitement and possibilities and think of lofty, unrealistic goals. When we don’t make progress toward one of these goals, even the more achievable ones might fall through. To prevent this burnout, it is best to make your goals actionable. Don’t just think of big-picture goals, but rather think through the strategies and tactics you will use to accomplish your goals. Doing so will give you a clear path to take and help you establish early-on which goals are realistic. Make them work together. Another stumbling block people run into when trying to achieve their goals is having too many goals, or having too many that don’t work well together. You can’t accomplish everything at the same time. If you want to spend more time socializing, but also want to read for four hours a day, one of those goals will likely fail because they don’t coincide. Make your goals make sense together. For example, if you want to drink less and socialize more, think of other social activities you can engage in away from settings where people frequently drink.
  2. Start habits. One of the best ways to create lasting change is to form habits. A habit is formed when you consistently perform an action and are rewarded for doing so. You need both a reward and a cue (trigger that initiates the behavior) to form a habit. If your goal is to read more every day, keeping a book nearby serves as a good cue, and letting yourself eat a treat after serves as a good reward. When forming a habit, remember that you won’t achieve your result immediately, but keeping up the behavior will be much easier down the line.
  3. Keep a progress journal. One essential factor to maintaining your New Year’s resolutions is mindfulness. Before your new rhythms become consistent habits, you will have to be mindful to keep them up. A helpful method for doing this is keeping a journal where you track your progress and commemorate your victories. Make a point to open your journal every day, check off the rhythm for the day, and describe how you did it. After even one week, looking at your successes so far should help motivate you to keep going. Beyond motivation, a journal will also encourage you when you don’t move toward your goals perfectly. If journaling isn’t your preferred method, include another person who will encourage you and check in periodically — we typically perform better when we have to “report in.” However you choose to do it, having accountability and encouragement will remind you how far you’ve come from the very beginning of your journey and should make it easier to not be hard on yourself for one off day.

If the New Year begins to feel too overwhelming, remember that help is just a phone call away. Connect with Centerstone today by calling 1-877-HOPE123 (877-467-3123).

John Markley is the regional chief executive officer for Centerstone, a nonprofit health system specializing in mental health and substance use disorder treatments. As  regional chief executive officer, Markley is responsible for the leadership and operational oversight of Centerstone’s clinical divisions, specialized services, strategic business development and fiscal accountability in Illinois. Markley began his behavioral health career at Centerstone in 1985 as a staff accountant. He became the Chief Financial Officer in 1987 and ascended to become Regional CEO in 2006. Under Markley’s leadership, Centerstone’s operations in Illinois have expanded from serving residents in southern Illinois to include western Illinois following a 2015 merger with Wellspring Resources in Alton. Markley has served on the Board of Directors for several industry associations and non-profit organizations. He is currently a member of the public policy committee for the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois and is also a Board Member for the Marion Aldersgate United Methodist Church. Markley graduated from Murray State University with bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice and accounting, and from Century University with a master’s degree in business administration.

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