Are You Disciplined or In Denial?

5 Steps to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Come True


Deena Rey Cameron

As the New Year approaches, many of us have started thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Though it’s never too late to make a change, there’s something about the beginning of a brand new year that inspires optimistic ambition. Making resolutions can be a great way to practice Self-reflection and give yourself a fresh start. However, resolutions can be quite hard to keep, and many of us abandon our resolutions long before the end of the year. If you’re looking to increase your self-discipline and actualize your resolutions, keep reading to learn the 5 steps to make your New Year’s resolution come true.

Key Points:

  • New Year’s Resolutions are often difficult to achieve due to unrealistic expectations, excess social pressures, and misconceptions about self-discipline.
  • Contrary to popular belief, self-discipline is not the ability to sacrifice your desires in favor of improvement; rather, it is a dedication to self-actualization.
  • Once you understand self-discipline, you can apply it to any aspirations, goals, or resolutions you hope to achieve.

Why Do Resolutions Fail?

There are many reasons why resolutions are difficult to maintain, mainly because they tend to be unrealistic. Failure to maintain resolutions can be very discouraging and lead to feelings of shame and self-doubt. If you have ever failed to maintain a resolution, you are not alone! New Year’s resolutions are often challenging to keep because of inflated expectations, excessive social pressures, and mistaken ideas about self-discipline.

Discipline vs. Self-Denial

Culturally, we often glamorize suffering and promote toxic strength. It is more admirable to be an overworked physician than a fulfilled teacher. Both people can provide for themselves and occupy essential roles, but only one of those professions is typically associated with extensive training and burnout.

The idealization of suffering has resulted in misconceptions regarding self-discipline. Most people think they struggle with discipline because they are actually practicing self-denial or self- control. While self-regulation is an important skill, it’s essential to differentiate between self- denial and self-discipline. Self-discipline can be defined as a dedication to self-actualization. It is purposefully and intentionally working toward achieving one’s full potential.

If you are self-disciplined, you are primarily concerned with doing what is best for you. When you adopt a dedication to yourself, the desire for personal development and well-being supersedes any other. It’s not that you deny all your impulses; rather, your impulses and desires change to adapt to your disciplined mindset. People who religiously go running at 5 AM every day do it because they want to, not because they have to. If you’re going to develop self- discipline, you have to connect with yourself enough to know what you truly want and where you want to be. If you are ready to become a disciple to yourself, keep reading to learn 5 steps to realize your resolutions.


Though challenging, it is possible to take your resolution from hypothetical thought to a thriving reality.

Here are five steps to help you make your New Year’s resolutions come true:

1. Pick a *Realistic* Resolution

The first step is to pick your resolution. It can be something simple, like drinking more water, or something complex, like being more patient. Either way, your resolution is valid as long as it is realistic for you. Take some time to reflect on your life so far and think about ways to improve it.

2. Reflect on Your Obstacles

Why haven’t you already made this change? Resolutions are rarely random; they typically reflect existing desires and aspirations. Before you can actualize your new resolution, you must figure out your obstacles. For example, if you want to start going to the gym, you should figure out why you haven’t been before committing to a 5- day workout regimen. In some cases, achieving your resolution may require rearranging priorities and developing better time management skills. In others, you may have to confront internal conflicts as you work toward your goal.

3. Make a Game Plan

One great way to ensure you enjoy this holiday season to the best of your ability is to make a plan and stick to it! It is entirely normal to desire some level of control over your holiday festivities. While you cannot control everything, you can do your best to prepare for the holidays by setting achievable goals. Goal setting is a great way to focus and manage your holiday expectations. You can make itineraries, budgets, and/or to-do lists. You can also practice responses to questions you undoubtedly anticipate from distant family or old friends. For some people, having an established game plan can alleviate a lot of the pressure surrounding the holidays, so give it a try this year and be sure to include room for adjustments!

4. Strategize

It’s natural to start feeling discouraged after confronting your obstacles, but you can’t stop there if you truly want to grow. You cannot control the path to your resolution, but you can control how you choose to walk it. Depending on your reactions to them, obstacles can either be stumbling blocks that hinder you or stepping stones to elevate you. Once you identify what’s been holding you back, it’s time to start problem-solving. The next step is to develop a solution for each obstacle you named during the second step and develop strategies to weaken their influence. Everyone is different, so you should avoid comparison and make solutions specific to you; you know yourself best, after all! To illustrate, if you have trouble eating healthily due to taste preferences, try looking for healthy alternatives to foods you already enjoy.

5. Set Goals

Rome wasn’t built in a day! You do not need to start the year off immediately embodying your resolution. A resolution is simply a declaration of the change you want to see in your life. After you have developed your game plan, set incremental goals, and only move on to the next goal once you have consistently achieved the previous one. Consistency is the hardest part of maintaining a new resolution, and all progress is tentative until it becomes a habit.

6. Trust the Process

Slow and steady wins the race! Practice patience and learn to trust the process. You cannot rely solely on others to notice a change or provide positive feedback to track your progress. It’s easy to feel like we’re not making any progress when we only have tunnel vision, and you will get discouraged without acknowledging your growth. Congratulate yourself for each goal you achieve and remind yourself of your progress often. Refer to the obstacles you listed in step 2 and reflect on how you overcame them. You can provide your own validation, and it’s the only validation you should seek.

These steps all require self-discipline, not self-sacrifice. Most of us have tried the sacrificial route and know that even when it’s effective, there’s still something missing. This year, it’s time to give self-discipline a try.

Nicky Cameron, LCSW
Licensed Holistic Trauma Relief Therapist
Emergent Counselling & Consulting LLC

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