The ushering in of a New Year often inspires people to create resolutions. Opinions about New Year’s resolutions are divided. Proponents claim that the New Year is an ideal time to start with a fresh perspective on setting a meaningful goal, while cynics assert that very few people actually keep their new year’s resolutions. In fact, the cynics may have it right.
While 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, only about 8 percent keep their resolutions. So is it worth it to make a resolution for the New Year?
The answer may depend on one important factor: mental strength.
Whether or not you make a resolution this year, mentally strong people are more likely to achieve their goals. If you are leaping into 2015 with a specific goal in one hand and optimism in the other, or if you are simply a general goal setter throughout the year, knowing how to be mentally strong can be useful in setting and achieving goals any month of the year.
Mentally strong people do the following:
1. They move on, and don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves.
2. They keep control. They don’t give away their power.
3. They embrace change. They welcome challenges.
4. They stay happy. They don’t complain. They don’t waste energy on things they can’t control.
5. They are kind, fair and unafraid to speak up. They don’t worry about pleasing other people.
6. They are willing to take calculated risks. They weigh the risks and benefits before taking action.
7. They invest their energy in the present. They don’t dwell on the past.
8. They accept full responsibility for their past behavior. They don’t make the same mistake over and over.
9. They celebrate other people’s success. They don’t resent that success.
10. They are willing to fail. They don’t give up after failing. They see every failure as a chance to improve.
11. They enjoy their time alone. They don’t fear being alone.
12. They are prepared to work and succeed on their own merits. They don’t feel the world owes them anything.
13. They have staying power. They don’t expect immediate results.
14. They evaluate their core beliefs and modify as needed.
15. They expend their mental energy wisely. They think productively. They replace negative thoughts with productive thoughts.
16. They tolerate discomfort. They accept their feelings without being controlled by them.
All human beings succeed and fail.
There are ebbs and flows to our achievements. One noteworthy factor, mentioned in a few of the principles above, is the ability to not give up. We all get knocked off the horse at times, and part of successful goal achievement is getting back on the horse and continuing to ride.
Of all of the principles above, the one that is probably most powerful in leading to successful goal achievement is possessing positive thought patterns. Ruminating in thoughts such as “I will never succeed at this”, or “Why do I even bother trying?” will certainly drain one’s mental energy and motivation.
In the words of Soren Kierkegaard, “Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts.” Maintaining positive thoughts is likely the most important factor to successful goal attainment.
Goal attainment aside, mental strength helps up deal with the peaks and valleys of life. While there are certainly significant life events that intensely challenge our ability to display mental strength, there are usually many smaller circumstances or events that we can look to some of the principles above for guidance.
Mental strength is hard, and requires work. It is often more tempting, and therefore easier, to languish in irrational thinking, extreme emotions or self-pity. During times when things are difficult, or we have set a path for ourselves to achieve a goal, the power we possess to think and behave with mental strength is within us.
Whether you have created a New Year’s resolution for yourself or not, I wish each of you a year filled with mental strength.
Until next time, be well.
Diane Bigler is a licensed clinical social worker who lives in Platte City with her family. She may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.