New year, new you need not be so burdensome.
The Chronicle spoke with a pair of Queens-oriented life coaches about ways to keep one’s New Year’s resolutions.
Both Jonathan Wachtel, a Connecticut-based life coach who formerly worked out of Kew Gardens and still virtually sees a number of Queens-based clients, and Louise Derzansky, a Briarwood-based life coach specializing in attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactive disorder treatment, say it’s good to find time to make goals for oneself, regardless of the time of year.
“It’s good to have checkpoints,” Wachtel said. “You have birthdays, you have holidays. When we have checkpoints, it breaks up the monotony and gets us to review what’s going on in our lives from a different perspective.”
“It’s good to ask yourself, with any resolution you might think about, ask yourself if it will really do something important for you if you achieve it,” Derzansky said.
Wachtel believes in that sense of feelings-based goal setting. He believes it best for resolution-makers to use their feelings as a compass, trying to determine which actions will make one looking to improve oneself feel better in the long run.
“The problem is, when we make our goals ‘have-to’ goals, I have to do this, I have to do that because everyone else is doing it, because I just think I should, because someone else said to; that’s not a good New Year’s resolution. That’s not a good goal,” he said. “That’s a goal that we probably will not reach, and even if we do, we won’t feel good about it.”
While Wachtel applies that logic on a broader scale, in terms of setting a goal to begin with, he says it can also apply on a more micro level. One may have a good, personal goal that, on any given day, one just doesn’t feel like working toward for whatever reason, and Wachtel says that can be OK.
“If it doesn’t feel good to do it when you’re actually feeling good, then it was good to take the break. It was on track with your goal,” Wachtel said.
The aim, in Wachtel’s eyes, is feeling good. It is not in one’s best interest to force oneself to work toward a goal simply because it feels like something they “should” do. Individuals should take stock of what’s actually going to make them feel good; the aim of resolution-making, after all, is to feel better about oneself after a period of time.
Derzansky says the best thing to do with a bad day is flush it and move on.
“You have all of these reasons for wanting to lose weight, be in better shape, that it’s OK if you have one bad day,” she said. “It doesn’t have to slow you down overall. You can still make steady progress toward the goals.”
If the bad days become a pattern, Wachtel says, that could be a sign the goal that a resolution-maker may have selected is not best for him or her. He says that realization in itself could be a positive, as continuing down the path of achieving a goal that is not going to ultimately breed good feelings is like following GPS directions that are leading you to the wrong destination: What’s the point of continuing on if you’re not going to get where you need to go?
When it comes to finding ways to make progress toward a goal that one has identified as a possible enactor of positive change in one’s life, Derzansky says it might be best to bring someone else on board as a possible motivator. Above all else, she says any resolution-maker should stick to hyping oneself up rather than tearing oneself down.
“Try to replace that negative self-talk with more positive self-talk,” she said. “It’s very cognitive. It’s not just following a regimen or a diet. It’s about trying to figure out what might be stopping you from following these regiments.”
Wachtel emphasizes the importance of opening a dialogue with one’s feelings: instead of willing oneself into feeling better, trying to figure out what might be making one feel bad in the first place.
“If we respond to the reactive stuff inside us and we say, ‘I hear you. I didn’t realize I was making you feel this. I want to make you feel better. How can I do that? What would be a better feeling that we could aim for?,’ then we’re turning it into a dialogue instead of a monologue,” he said.