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We are in the season of New Year’s Resolutions. There’s something about the beginning of the new year that gives us a chance to think about the things in our lives that are working, as well as the things in our lives that are not working. The beginning of the New Year is a natural time to commit to making a change or blazing a new trail.

Most New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Most New Year’s Resolutions fail. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of the main problems is that people fail to take their New Year’s Resolution “outside.”

When I am working with someone in counseling, a key transition is to transfer what the client is learning “inside” the counseling office to their “outside” world and relationships. This transfer from inside to outside absolutely has to happen for counseling to be effective. In counseling, I usually only have one hour per week with someone. The rest of the week, they are on their own. The learning inside has to impact the life outside.

Take Your New Year’s Resolutions Outside

A similar thing happens with New Year’s Resolutions. People often do a lot of thinking and reflection about what they want to change—this is the inside work. But this reflection doesn’t always transfer into one’s behaviors and activities—this is the outside work. Whatever your New Year’s Resolution is, how can we make that transfer happen? Here are 3 tips for taking your resolution outside. They are easy to remember, because they all start with the letter “S”:

  1. Start small. One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to make a change is to start doing something that is too big. For example, maybe your resolution is to get back into shape, so you plan to run 5 miles. That’s too much too soon. You are setting yourself up for failure. Instead, start small. Plan to run for 5 minutes. Then build on your success. Always start with something that you know you can do.
  2. Schedule it in. When trying to make a change, write it down in your schedule. Pick a time during the day to do the behavior. It’s best if you can do it at the same time every day. Your new behavior won’t feel natural at first—that’s okay. Schedule it in like you would an appointment on your calendar. Over time, the new behavior will become second nature. But at first, you have to schedule it in or it won’t happen.
  3. Support. You can’t make a change by yourself. You need accountability and support. Ask a friend to call you every day to check in with you about your change. Better yet, partner together with a friend and make the change as a team. Go public with your change on social media. Gather a community around you to help you and encourage you.

Discussion: What is one of your New Year’s Resolutions? How can you use the 3 S’s to take your resolution outside?

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