It’s that time of year, when folks are making resolutions. This is despite the fact that research shows that the vast majority of people will relapse into their old behaviour within a few months. It’s enough to make you wonder, are New Year’s resolutions even worth it?
As an individual, couple and sex therapist in Toronto, I’m often asked if I really believe that people can change. My answer to this is, “absolutely, yes.” Of course, people have to want to change, they need to be ready to do so, and they need to have the right tools and support to make the change. When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, people may not be ready or have the proper tools available. Instead, they may be making a decision to change due to the pressure of the season without actually determining if this is the right time or if they have what is required to succeed.
Rather than a time for resolutions, I like to think of this as a good time to take stock of your life. What is going well and what could be improved with your work, family, and relationships? As you look over the past year, where are the areas of most stress and which of these are in your control (ie. can you change your environment or how you respond to your environment)? As you look ahead to the next year, what would you like to see more of when it comes to relationships (eg. more time with friends, more connection with a partner, or greater ability to trust in relationships)
Once you’ve taken stock of the things that are going well and the areas you might like to improve, you can decide what you’d like to do next. Is now the time to work on change? If so, can you start making a plan on your own, or do you not know where to start? If you’re ready to move forward and can see the steps, start creating your plan including a timeline. However, sometimes people are clear in what they’d like, but don’t know how to achieve it. For example, you’ve identified that you’d like to feel more connected to your partner but don’t know how to get started, or you’d like to have more friendships but social anxiety is holding you back. In this case, reaching out to an individual or couple therapist for counselling can help provide you with the tools you need. New Year’s resolutions may not last, but you can identify areas that are going well and areas for improvement—and with preparation and support you can make change.