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January 10, 2017
by Agnes Oh, PsyD, LMFT

New Year's Resolution: New Tips for Success

January 10, 2017 10:40 by Agnes Oh, PsyD, LMFT   [About the Author]

The New Year has begun and is well under way.

There’s much ado about starting anew with various intentions and personal goals people set out to accomplish.

At this time of year, however, many people are also susceptible to the pressure of making more meaningful and valuable resolutions.

Maybe the pressure is more about sticking to the goals which often poses more challenges that could sometimes compromise all the New Year’s buzz of excitement.

Consequently, January is considered to be one of the most stressful times of the year.

When all the initial bubbles of hope and aspirations fizzle out and dissipate into what feels like futile attempts, many people are experiencing a sense of helplessness and dejection.

Old habits are difficult to alter and often involve committed strategies if desired to achieve a lasting change.

Personalize Goals

To ensure that every New Year’s resolutions not fall to the wayside after January and make them stick, it is important to contextualize the goals and ascribe them personal meaning.

When the goals are established in connection to personal values, they become much more significant and hence, more likely to be followed through.

One of the reasons why many people have difficulty keeping their New Year’s resolutions is because the goals are not individual enough, lacking the specific, subjective meaning attached to them.

Discovering personal reasons for wanting to make specific change would be an important initial step to making New Year’s resolutions that can be kept.

Focus On Progress  

According to research, it is equally important to focus on the initial progress made rather than what needs to be accomplished later.

When the focus is more on what has been accomplished and gained (however minute), people tend to be more motivated and stay committed (Koo & Fishbach, 2008).

Recognizing progress can foster a greater sense of confidence and optimism in the feasibility of the goals actually being realized.

This concept is definitely derived from a strength-based approach, encouraging any and all desired change to be built on existing strengths in lieu of perceived deficiency.


Change is difficult.

Change also comes with a deep sense of fear and reservations for potential failure.

As with any goal-setting endeavors, what makes New Year’s resolutions more than a mere ritual is each individual’s personal meaning acquired in the process.

In this vein, the greatest obstacle to realizing this year’s resolutions may be the lack of clarify as to why we are wanting to effect any change in the first place.

Perhaps the bigger task at hand is finding the answer to this very individual quest.


Koo, M., & Fishbach, A. (2008). Dynamics of self-regulation: How (un)accomplished goal actions affect motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 183-195.

About the Author

Dr. Agnes Oh Dr. Agnes Oh, PsyD, LMFT

Dr. Agnes Oh is dually licensed as a clinical psychologist and a marriage and family therapist. For the last fifteen years, Dr. Oh has devoted her practice primarily in the areas of trauma, grief/loss, couples/family issues, and multicultural counseling, as well as personal empowerment. Dr. Oh is an avid proponent of a strength-based, relational approach to helping people as she firmly believes in each person’s intrinsic power to heal, grow, and thrive given the proper guidance and support.

Office Location:
1010 N. Central Ave. Ste. 303
Glendale, California
United States
Phone: (818) 441-1096
Contact Dr. Agnes Oh

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