As a remarkably challenging year begins to close out, many are starting to look towards the New Year. It’s common to reflect on the kind of person you want to be and how you want to be present in what has become a “new normal” —for yourself, for others, and for the world.
As a hallmark of the beauty of humanity, many individuals are firm in their resolve to continue their paths of growth, healing, and contribution to the world. Firm in their resolution to grow, many turn to the traditional setting of New Year’s resolutions.
There’s one complication with this approach: Despite the beauty of positive intention in resolution setting, over 90% of New Year resolutions are unmet within the first few months.
If this is the case, the question becomes “How can I create lasting change in my life?”
How to Set Resolutions or Goals That Create Lasting Change
There are a number of reasons resolutions are unmet, or trail off. Fortunately, once you know what these reasons are, you can take action to ensure their success. This helps you build and carry momentum far beyond the New Year, and contributes to the building of the “new you” you may be seeking.
A few of the reasons New Year's resolutions are unmet are:
- Too much focus on the ‘how’ instead of the ‘why’
- The resolution is too great of a change to manage, preventing it from becoming a habit
- Missing a few days is seen as “failure,” and the attempt stops there
- It doesn’t fit into your existing personality, identity, and core beliefs
Let’s explore these blockers and triggers in further detail.
Have a Distinct “Why?”
If you focus on nothing else in making long-lasting resolutions, focus on the “why?”
Your “why?” is the core reason for bringing change into your life. Without this core, your goal or resolution starts with a weaker foundation to rest on. Often, when a bit of resistance from life appears —an unexpected event, increased pressure from work, or something similar— the new habit or practice slowly crumbles, and your resolution will remain unmet. This is why foundation is important.
Ask yourself why you are doing this. Ask what purpose it serves in your life. The deeper down the practice can settle into your identity and goals and core beliefs, the easier it will be to continue it through struggle or obstacles that arise along the way.
Additionally, if you have a “why?,” it is much easier to pick a goal or resolution back up, because it’s a much sturdier foundation to build the rest of your life upon. The work required to start or continue this new practice won’t seem like so much of a chore.
As philosopher Frederich Nietzsche said, “He who has a why can bear almost any how.”
Start with your ‘why?’ Make it powerful. The deeper, and the more foundational to you, the better.
Select a less disruptive resolution or goal
Some individuals choose massive resolutions at the beginning of the year. These can be leaps and bounds ahead of the state they are at presently. Going from no exercise to two hours a day in the gym is a common one, for example.
A change this large, this quickly, and this disruptive to your schedule and your existing capacity can seem like a monumental hill to climb. It becomes too draining, too exhausting, too much of a time commitment, and fails to integrate properly into your life.
The approach here is to start small, to make subtle but distinct steps forward in the direction of your resolution. After all, you have all year to cultivate it!
Many of your resolutions are powerful habitual or behavioral changes, those that can be beneficial over the course of your entire life. If it takes a few weeks or months of small but consistent effort to make it a regular practice, a long-term approach is definitely worth it.
Pick a clear action, one which is easily manageable, doesn’t require too much energy or a change to your existing routine, and resolve to do it daily. Over time, it integrates into your routine and becomes a natural part of your life.
Recognize there is no failure, only temporary setback
There are always obstacles in your way, and there will be a few days missed here and there. You shouldn’t expect perfection from yourself when starting something new. For some, after a few weeks of daily practice, just one or two missed sessions is seen as complete failure. The resolution is dropped on the spot.
This doesn’t have to be the case. All you need to do is start again. Play the long game —after all, this is something that has the potential to benefit the rest of your life. A few missed days or sessions along the way won’t even be noticeable after years of consistently showing up to meet your resolutions or goals.
Just start again. It’s not about perfect, it’s about consistent small steps and systems that become naturally embedded into your routine.
This is where the first two points above are helpful: Have a meaningful “why?” and make the activity very small, so it’s actually easier to do regularly and build momentum in. If it’s important enough to you, if it has the power of an existential ‘why’ behind it, it is much easier to pick resolutions back up if you drop or pause on them for some time.
Consider that all change is identity change
If you’re practicing writing, you’re becoming a writer. If you’re running more, you’re becoming and embodying a runner. All change is identity change — it changes who you are, how you see yourself, and how you relate to yourself.
This is both an important obstacle and your most powerful asset. This can be an important part of the ‘why?’ —these small habits and changes impact who you are and who you’re becoming.
Ensure that you are setting resolutions and goals for yourself. These should be focused on your own benefit, growth, and healing, not the expectations of others.
Changing your identity is not as always easy, but it is always happening. You can begin to work with these forces, to surrender and open up to the process, and become the person you’ve always wanted to be by recognizing this.
Make Change Stick with Embodied Experiences through Psychedelic Therapy
There are tools and systems you can use that help to address all of these potential obstacles, and help you create long-lasting systems of change and growth in your life.
Doing this work through psychedelic therapy, like the programs provided here at Mindbloom, helps you address lasting change in safe and structured therapeutic environments. You can cultivate your “why?,” become more fluid for identity-level changes, identify manageable next steps, and build momentum and energy that will carry you through these changes.
If you’d like to learn more about how ketamine treatments and psychedelic therapy can help skyrocket your growth and healing, and solidify your New Year’s resolutions— see if you're a candidate, and let’s talk!
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This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. If you are in a life-threatening situation, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at +1 (800) 273-8255, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.
Important FDA Safety Information
Ketamine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of depression or anxiety. Learn more about off-label uses here.
Side effects of ketamine treatment may include: altered sense of time, anxiety, blurred vision, diminished ability to see/hear/feel, dry mouth, elevated blood pressure or heart rate, elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure, excitability, loss of appetite, mental confusion, nausea/vomiting, nystagmus (rapid eye movements), restlessness, slurred speech, synesthesia (a mingling of the senses).
Do not proceed with ketamine treatment if any of the following apply to you:
- Allergic to ketamine
- Symptoms of psychosis or mania
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- CHF or other serious heart problem
- Severe breathing problem
- History of elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure
- History of hyperthyroidism
- Other serious medical illness
- Pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant
Ketamine has been reported to produce issues including, but not limited to, those listed below. However, lasting adverse side-effects are rare when medical protocols are carefully followed.
While ketamine has not been shown to be physically addictive, it has been shown to cause moderate psychological dependency in some recreational users.
- In rare cases, frequent, heavy users have reported increased frequency of urination, urinary incontinence, pain urinating, passing blood in the urine, or reduced bladder size
- Ketamine may worsen problems in people with schizophrenia, severe personality disorders, or other serious mental disorders.
- Users with a personal or family history of psychosis should be cautious using any psychoactive substance, including ketamine, and discuss potential risks with your MindBloom clinician before proceeding with treatment.
- The dissociative effects of ketamine may increase patient vulnerability and the risk of accidents.
To promote positive outcomes and ensure safety, follow these ketamine treatment guidelines:
- Do not operate a vehicle (e.g., car, motorcycle, bicycle) or heavy machinery following treatment until you’ve had a full night of sleep
- Refrain from taking benzodiazepines or stimulants for 24 hours prior to treatment
- Continue to take antihypertensive medication as prescribed
- Avoid hangovers or alcohol intake
- Refrain from consuming solid foods within 3 hours prior to treatment and liquids within 1 hour prior to treatment
- Ketamine treatment should never be conducted without a monitor present to ensure your safety