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Can CBT help keep New Year Resolutions?

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

January is often a time of reflection and planning for the year ahead.

Do you create New Years Resolutions?

How often do you achieve them?

In this process we often choose goals that are unrealistic and challenging, so we often either fail at the first hurdle or struggle to maintain these new habits.

In CBT we often talk about SMART goals:

Specific – Ask yourself what you would like to accomplish? For example, to have a goal ‘To lose weight’ can be written more precisely by identifying what changes you will make to your diet and exercise regime (please also refer to Realistic). Can you break this goal down into smaller steps, what would be the first thing you could do, and how can you build on that? Who else needs to be involved to help you achieve this? It can also help to explore why you have set this goal, is there anything else you can do to help. Loosing weight as a goal might also be an underlying issue with low self-esteem, depression, or social anxiety. If you recognise any underlying issue then get in touch for a free assessment to see how CBT can help you:

Measurable – When you have the first few steps identified you can then set measures to track progress. When will you start? How long will you do the first step for or how many times?

Achievable – Is this goal achievable? Do you have the right equipment to help you get there? Would it help to get extra advice and guidance from friends, family, your GP or other professional?

Realistic – Is this goal realistic, or are your expectations set too high? Again, do you have the right equipment and knowledge to help you get there? Setting your goals or expectations too high to begin with could result in disappointment and failure. By creating smaller steps and a more realistic goal, then you are more likely to achieve this so that you can build on it for further success.

Timed – When will you begin? How long will you do this for, and have you set a date to review your progress, or to evaluate (without judgement) any setbacks you may have encountered so that you can plan how to overcome this barrier. One common barrier to progress is our inner critic and unhelpful thoughts which can often present in anxiety and depression. This can often result in focusing on the negative, putting yourself down or predicting the worst. For example, in social anxiety the goal to make new friends may be hindered by the thought “What if nobody likes me”, or “Everyone will stare at me and I’ll do something wrong, I always get it wrong.” Working together using CBT we can explore this way of thinking and begin to challenge the unhelpful thoughts so that you can begin to achieve your goals.

CBT is short-term therapy focusing on making a difference to unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that are holding you back. Creating SMART goals and learning new coping strategies help set the way forward to overcoming barriers. To find out more, and for a free assessment, please email

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