Making 2015 Your Best Year Yet

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

Aside from resolutions that may fall by the wayside, there are ways to set yourself up for a great year. Larry Meiller finds out how to make this year your best yet.

Featured in this Show

  • UW Psychologist Offers Tips, Tools For Lasting New Year's Resolutions

    The start of a new year can feel like a good time to reset and recommit to goals that have not been reached.

    But, according to Shilagh Mirgain, a University of Wisconsin Health psychologist, 90 percent of New Year’s resolutions have already been abandoned within two weeks. She said that doesn’t have to be the case.

    “The time is now for us to really pursue those dreams that we have as a gift to ourselves,” said Mirgain.

    Mirgain said that using the following four basic “building blocks” can help an individual beat the odds and fulfill their New Year’s resolution.

    1. Envision Your Best Year

    When trying to achieve something, it makes sense to know what the ideal outcome would look like. Research shows that concrete goals are easier to attain, and it certainly makes tracking progress simpler, Mirgain said.

    So, she encouraged people to take time up front to think about what the “best year” would really look like.

    Questions that she suggested to frame that brainstorming process are:

    • If you knew you only had one year left to live, what would you do differently?
    • What do you want to be remembered for?
    • What would you as a child think of the adult you are now?

    For Mirgain, the opposite of envisioning the best year possible is to sleepwalk along in life. She said that without reflection and challenging assumptions about what one’s reality is and how it can be different will not lead to positive change.

    Mirgain said she hopes that people will give themselves permission and time to reflect on life experiences and plan for the best year yet.

    “Life is both good and bad. It’s a package deal,” she said. “But, looking at what were the highlights allows you to identify those things that really feel enlivening. … Those are probably the things that we want in the forefront.”

    2. Make Peace With Your Past

    Resolutions are forward-looking by nature, but Mirgain said that looking back is an important step in the process of making the best year ever possible.

    “Often we carry around old hurts, resentments and regrets like a pile of debris that weighs us down. These things rob us of energy and vitality,” she said. “Finding closure gives us energy, enthusiasm and a new perspective, but it’s up to us to make it happen.”

    Mirgain said that making a list of unfinished emotional business and deciding if and how to address it can create space for success.

    3. Plan And Anticipate Obstacles

    The best way to know how resolutions and intentions might get derailed is to look at past experiences.

    “We learn the best from ourselves, looking back at what we were able to achieve, how we went about it, and what worked well,” Mirgain said. But she added that just as important is remembering where the internal or external pitfalls were in the past when trying to achieve goals. Looking to successes to plan for the best year possible is only useful when coupled with looking at failures as well, she said.

    “Often those obstacles are our greatest teachers, and we can use those lessons learned as fuel to move us forwarded,” said Mirgain.

    4. Create Systems, Not Goals

    Mirgain said that many resolutions are short-term goals, and as a result, when they are met, momentum is lost. A good example is losing weight for a high school reunion. Once the reunion is over and pictures are taken and posted on social media, the broader goal of weight loss is forgotten.

    So while concrete is good, Mirgain said that she also encourages people to think big. Maybe a childhood goal was to become an astronaut. While that goal isn’t realistic, maybe what really drives that wish is wanting to experience a sense of discovery, she said.

    With that goal reframed, a wide variety of options become apparent, Mirgain said: Travel, learning a new language, or a new sport or hobby might provide what is at the bottom of that desire.

    “One of my favorite quotes is, ‘The secret of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes,’” Mirgain said.

    Mirgain said she hopes that people will give themselves permission and time to reflect on life experiences and plan for the best year yet.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Shilagh Mirgain Guest