Making Lasting Changes

Start small and meet your goals

By Dawn Liles


Many people wake up on January 1 committed to making a positive life change. Yet, according to, approximately 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions have dropped them by the second week of February. Experts say making resolutions isn’t the problem; most people fail because of the way they try to achieve their goals. Without the necessary tools and mindset, it’s nearly impossible to make a lasting change.

Whether a person wants to get organized, move ahead at work, lose weight, step up their exercise or be more present and mindful every day, they need an actionable, realistic plan that works with their values and motivations to succeed.

According to Alison Abbott, a Ballantyne-based licensed clinical mental health counselor with Footprints and Pathways Counseling Services, it’s tough enough to make goals and stick to them under normal circumstances. Going into the third year of a global pandemic, many people are struggling even more to stay on track with their resolutions.

“I know many of us feel we have let our guard down during COVID and picked up some unhealthy habits,” says Abbott. “So, in 2022, we might want to reevaluate and set goals for health, exercise and even increasing how much we safely socialize. Connection with other people is so important for mental health.”

Abbott prefers the word “goal” instead of “resolution.”

“‘Resolution’ is too broad. Goals are manageable, small steps that don’t involve a complete overhaul of a person’s life. Setting up weekly goals is helpful — whatever feels attainable for you. Give yourself grace and flexibility and try to minimize negative self-talk. It’s important to build up your confidence so you can attain these new goals.”

Don’t feel pressured to make sweeping changes, adds Abbott. “It’s all about making small changes to your daily routine, walking an extra mile a day or adding an extra serving of vegetables or fruit each day.”

Productivity expert Andy Painter, president of Institute Success, which has offices in Ballantyne, agrees that tweaks to a person’s daily routine can have a big payoff. The Institute Success team specializes in executive coaching, leadership development and employee engagement. They help clients set a year full of intention to get results.