A Guide to Creating Less Anxious New Year’s Resolutions

A therapist explains how to be curious about a new year.

Kathleen Smith
Forge
Published in
3 min readDec 27, 2021

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Source: Canva

The Internet loves to debate whether New Year’s resolutions are useful or an unhealthy product of our culture. As a therapist, I ask people a different question:

How does anxiety influence your resolution-making?

When you are reacting rather than responding to your challenges and interests, anxiety is at the helm. So before you decide what your resolutions might be, or whether you want to make them at all, consider how your anxiety could screw it up.

When you anxiously focus on self-improvement:

Anxious self-improvement is more about calming yourself down as quickly as possible than it is about staying plugged into complex endeavors. Scribbling down goals, downloading self-improvement apps, or impulsively buying a gym membership might give you a hit of dopamine. But it can lead to deep self-criticism by February.

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Kathleen Smith
Forge
Writer for

Kathleen Smith is a therapist and author of the book Everything Isn’t Terrible: Conquer Your Insecurities, Interrupt Your Anxiety, and Finally Calm Down.