New Year? New Me?

By Erica Marriaga, MSW, LCSW
Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels

Each year when January 1st rolls around, I find myself thinking and even saying out loud “New Year, New Me.”  For the longest time, my resolutions stayed the same: lose weight and exercise.  

Overtime I’ve discovered that when I have the mindset of accomplishing long-term goals but do not create short-term goals to get me there, my resolutions go out the window.

Regardless of age, gender, demographics, I bet you can relate in some way. You might have different resolutions, but have you found yourself wanting to accomplish the same resolution with little change?

Pre-Covid Resolutions

According to Jamie Ballard, Research Journalist, 2019 and 2020 goals were very different from this year’s resolutions. In December, 2019, the most common Resolutions were:

  • exercising more (50%)
  • saving money (49%)
  • eating more healthily (43%)
  • losing weight (37%)
  • 12% say their 2020 resolutions are identical to their 2019
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) say that some of their new resolutions are repeats of their old ones

Pandemic Resolutions

It is very interesting that the research suggests 2021 Resolutions will be much different due to the Pandemic. It seems as though 2021 resolutions are not focused on going to the gym or losing weight. Seven out of ten Americans are tossing out their materialistic New Year’s resolutions for 2021.

  • 71% will be focusing on learning life skills or practical goals
  • 62% would like to saving money for the future
  • 50% would like to learn a new skill

Let’s be SMART about it!

Based on the information provided, what are you thinking about?  Do you usually create a New Year’s Resolution or a goal for the year? Creating a SMART goal is the way to go! 


Photo by Verywell / Alison Czinkota

S: Specific

Being specific with a goal allows you to know what the objective is and how to get there. What method will you use? Identify the objective with as much detail as possible. Start by stating the objective you wish to meet as specifically as possible. If you would like to get in shape, for example, set a specific activity-related goal, walk each day for 30 minutes after breakfast.

M: Measurable

Being measurable allows you to see the concrete progress you are making. Let’s look at the goal above and make sure it is measurable. “I will walk three times per week, 30 minutes after breakfast.” 

A: Attainable

Many times, I notice I set myself up for failure without realizing it. It is helpful to be realistic in what you are trying to achieve. If I know that I am working in the morning, it would not make sense for me to walk after I eat breakfast because of the time constraint.

While we all like to have the ideal plan in mind, understand that often things don’t go as planned. It might be helpful to have a backup plan in mind or give yourself extra time to complete the task just in case.

R: Relevant

Dr. Mark Stibich, PhD, suggests the following:

Goals should be inspiring enough that they motivate you to succeed. If you are not determined to meet your goal, obstacles will be very difficult to overcome.  If you don’t care about the goal, you are unlikely to work on it. If your doctor says, “lose weight,” but you are not inspired by this statement, find another goal you care about to pursue. For example, it might be much more inspiring to you to say, “I want to have more energy to play with my kids” or “I want to fit back into my college football jersey” in order to feel inspired to create smaller, process-based goals.

T: Time-Bound

You need to create a time-frame to be able to achieve your goal. It is easier to achieve something if you set a limit with yourself. You also want to ensure that the goal is not in the far out future so you are not tempted to procrastinate.

Reach Out to a Counselor to Help with Promoting Well-Being

As always, if you find yourself struggling in these areas, do not hesitate to reach out for help. A licensed therapist or counselor can help empower you to be your best self! 


Erica Marriaga is a proud fur-mama of her one-eyed rescue dog, Toby. She loves to spend time with her husband and bond with her family, nieces, and nephews. Erica is passionate and enthusiastic about her role as a therapist.  EWC has locations in Manalapan and Shrewsbury, NJ, and accepts a variety of insurances.

Check out Erica’s professional bio here!

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