Happy New Year! ... In September?



Have you ever noticed how the month of September brings a sense of renewal and vitality to a lot of people? During our formative years, September always signalled a new start: the simultaneously dreadful but wonderful school year. New school supplies, new back-to-school shoes or lunch boxes, and new classes to attend would bring about a sense of excitement, inspiration, and anticipation. For many of us, this sense of beginning gets carried with us into our adult years. Have you ever noticed that in September you start to think to yourself, “I will make my child’s lunches the night before this year!”, “I’m going to start exercising more!!”, or “It’s finally time to go after that promotion at work!”? If so, you are not alone. As there is never a bad time to set a new goal, here are 5 quick tips to help in setting and achieving your September resolutions:


1. ) The most important thing to do when setting any sort of goal is to keep it achievable. Do not set unrealistic goals that are going to be difficult to attain. If you set a small goal, one that you know will be relatively easy to achieve, you will gain momentum, helping to propel you forward towards success! Baby steps here is key.


2. ) Be patient. Bad habits aren’t developed over night. Neither are good ones. Persistence is critical when creating a new habit, and when you fall off the wagon (because everyone does), don't beat yourself up. Instead, do a quick mental note that “it happens!”, and then jump back onto the wagon before your goal gallops away into the horizon without you.


3. ) Share your goals and experiences with others. This not only helps to keep the goal at the forefront of your own mind, but it also helps to give you a sense of accountability. Even better, your friends, family, or social media community can help to encourage you along the way. And who knows? You may even serve as inspiration for them!



4. ) Ditch “will-power” or “discipline” and implement more positive emotions and cognitions such as hope, excitement, curiosity, and passion. Studies show that the people who consistently achieve their goals do not say to themselves “I’m going to deny myself what I really want”, but instead believe that they are giving themselves what they really want. For example, it’s not a case of thinking, “I’m not going to eat this chocolate cake”, but rather “I’m going to have this bowl of juicy and flavourful fruit because it's delicious!”. Change the wording in your mind, and your habits will follow.


5. ) Track your progress and celebrate your achievements. Tracking your progress could come in the form of check marks on a calendar (when you have achieved your goal that day), writing in a journal, or using an app on your phone to track your goal. By monitoring how you are doing, you are able to see if you are achieving what you set out to do (or not). And when you do have achievements and small successes, celebrate them! This usually does not mean eating an entire box of donuts if your new goal is to eat more healthy, or to take a week off from exercise if your goal was to move more. Instead, do a mental celebration and tell yourself how awesome you are! Send yourself a card, write yourself a fun email, literally pat yourself on the back; do the things you would do for a friend when they have had success, because your relationship with yourself is just as important.


Have any September goals that you want to achieve this year? Comment below!

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© 2019 Trish Stephens, Psychotherapist - Ottawa, Canada