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Narrative State and Mistake: New Year's Resolution for 2023

Updated: Jan 26

The time is here, and if you haven’t already, you’re bound to hear about the importance of setting New Year’s Resolutions. Oftentimes, NROs are fluffed with “Build your goals!” “Be better this year!” and “This year is your year!” These are all great epitaphs for these inspirational, hand-pumping, cheerleader-Esque quips because research shows that out of the 41% of Americans that set New Year’s resolutions, only 9% achieve them.

Those aren’t good odds.

You may be reading this thinking, “I thought I searched for a Life Coach/mental health counselor in training who can steer me in the right direction; why is she condemning my energy?”

Sorry about that.

New Year’s Resolutions don’t work because, most often, individuals create such lofty goals that they haven’t considered some key ingredients to ensure their success. These include:



Mistakes Made


We all have developed a personal narrative. The narrative that feeds our minds and habits are thoughts that have grown over time based on our experiences, our families of origin, and how we view our successes and failures. If we are depressed, our narrative resembles much of Eyeore in Winnie the Pooh, where we struggle to narrate a more positive future. Common rehearsal in your narrative may include: I’ve never done it before; why try again?

I wish I could say yes, but I can’t.

I’d say something, but no one listens to me.

When we are stuck in a depressive loop, we don’t succeed in our goals because our narrative tells us we aren’t capable.

The kicker is; you don’t have to be depressed to fail at your NRO. In fact, you could be extremely energized with your NRO, but another narrative is at play.

Micro Narrative

How do you approach failures? What do you tell yourself when you make a mistake?

If you’re like most adults in the United States, you have years of unmet New Year’s Resolutions. Swirling in your thoughts is more than likely a micro-narrative that tells you that because you didn’t reach your ultimate goal, you are a failure. More than likely, you miss the forest for the trees, meaning you do not process that the small steps you took to create and manage your NRO are not small at all but pivotal steps toward success.

A positive cognitive appraisal of small steps is necessary for reaching your NRO. The narrative you rehearse before goals sets into motion huge commands to the brain on what is to come and how to embrace the forward-moving narrative.

Who Are You?

There is an old tale about a king who was sick of his townspeople complaining that he hadn’t done enough for them. The complacency of the townspeople and their inability to see all he had provided them drove him mad. One day he placed an enormous boulder in the middle of the road that led to the castle yard where individuals would meet together and gain their food from the king.

The king sat in his castle and watched as the townspeople approached the boulder that blocked their way. One woman approached the boulder and complained, “I’m not able to move this boulder or climb over it; I will just go home hungry.” A man approached the boulder and looked at it, and said, “I remember when I tried to remove the limb in the road, and it took me so long to cut it up, move it to the side, and make a pile of logs only to be too tired to continue with my day. I won’t try to move this boulder.” The townspeople further annoyed the king; “Why did they give up so quickly?”

Then another man approached the boulder. The king watched him walk around the boulder multiple times then he disappeared out of sight. Suddenly, the king sees the boulder begin to roll, and just behind the gigantic rock, he sees the man with a thick branch creating a lever to move the boulder little by little. The man worked for hours, obviously exhausted, but focused on what was ahead: food and community in the castle yard. The man made just enough room to pass, a small space he could squeeze through. Nonetheless, he felt pride, it took a lot of effort, but it was worth it. Then as he started on his way forward, something caught his eye. Just under the boulder was a bag. The man opened the bag, and inside he found gold that would allow him a more comfortable life.


You can’t walk in the fog and hope you don’t bump into anything. Being lost doesn’t help you. You have to set the state of your environment for optimization. Most times, New Year’s Resolutions go somethin