New Year’s Resolutions

Musicians' Assistance Program

Volume 112, No. 1January, 2012

Cindy Green, LCSW

The office of the Musicians’ Assistance Program is your one-stop shop for musicians’ health. We offer counseling – both one-on-one and in groups – as well as information on all kinds of social services, including health insurance, food stamps and more. All services are free to Local 802 members. Contact us at or (212) 397-4802.

As the holiday season winds down and we settle back into our regular routines we face an opportunity to make healthy changes in our lives and create the list of things we resolve to do better ourselves. Whether you want to lose weight, save money, quit drinking or organize your living space, here are some tips to achieving the goals you set for a healthier lifestyle.

Make sure your plans are realistic. There is n better way to fail than to have unachievable goals. If your ideas are too ambitious, you risk feeling badly about yourself when you don’t achieve them. This leaves you more likely to give up all together and maintaining the same unhealthy behavior. It’s not likely that you’ll climb Mt. Everest this year, but perhaps you can get outside and do more hiking upstate.

Break down your goals. Habits take a long time to break, especially the bad ones. Instead of making a huge change, separate your resolutions into smaller steps to achieve within a generous time frame. Instead of telling yourself you’re going to lose 50 pounds this year, think more about losing 5 pounds in the next month. The success of reaching that small milestone can serve as encouragement for you to address the next step in accomplishing your goals. Plus, incremental changes over time are easier to maintain than an enormous change all at one time.

Be optimistic. Changes can feel uncomfortable and awkward. Instead of thinking that you’re punishing yourself, focus on the hopeful outcome. Remember, New Year’s resolutions are about improving your well being, not about deprivation. This will feel natural if you are motivated to change to please yourself, not someone else.

Reward yourself. Encourage yourself by setting up incentives along the way. If you want to increase your time at the gym, let yourself watch your favorite show on Netflix once you’ve made 3 visits. You can watch the next episode after just 3 more visits. But be careful, don’t make your reward contrary to your resolution. If you have resolved to lose weight, your reward should not be a trip to Magnolia Bakery.

Stay focused on one primary resolution. So many people try to make too many changes at once. If you decide to quit smoking, get organized and lose weight all at the same time, you’ll likely feel overwhelmed. Pick one thing to focus on at a time and the success of making that change will serve as motivation to tackle your next goal.

Be Specific. Vague goals like “exercise more” are hard to follow. Write down the activities in which to engage to help you keep your resolution. Daily tasks on paper will make you more likely to succeed.

Talk to your doctor. Particularly if you have a medical condition (including alcohol and drug abuse), it is critical to speak to your doctor about your health related New Year’s resolutions. Medical providers can advise you about portions of your plans that might put you at risk. For example, it is not advisable to stop drinking cold turkey after days, weeks or months of heavy alcohol use. A detox protocol prescribed by a medical professional will help get you sober safely and off to a great start towards long term sobriety.

Find a partner. Get a friend or loved one with a similar goal and work together to achieve it. You can hold each other accountable and motivate each other to make the changes you want and feel good about it. Even if you can’t find someone to go to the gym with you, talk to your supportive family and friends about what you’re trying to do and let them encourage the changes you’re trying to make.

Don’t give up. When making big changes, it’s not unusual to lose some ground once in a while. It’s ok to take one step back when you’ve taken three steps forward. If you have a setback, don’t consider it a failure. It’s a temporary diversion that you can easily resolve to get back on track. Expecting perfection will only lead to disappointment.

Making significant changes in life can be challenging and it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. For help making and keeping your new years’ resolutions, please contact the MAP office at (212) 397-4802 or e-mail us at