I'm going to lose some weight.
I'm going to go to church and pray every week.
I'm going to talk to my father more.
I'm going to finally quit drinking and smoking.
I'm going to go back to school.
I'm going to end this affair.
I'm going to volunteer.
I'm going to love myself.
I’m going to write more blog posts as advertised (whoops).
New years resolutions can be fun. I had a few last year and batted about .500 on them. It begs to question though - why do we make these things? Maybe it’s something psychological - the ending to a year. A clean slate on the horizon. I saw that at lot as a school counselor - meeting with students early in the semester to give them extra encouragement to make this the best year they can. Starting fresh.
Sometimes, though, these resolutions can set us up for failure. A buddy of mine used to work at a local gym and he’d notice how much the gym memberships would spike around January then fall off around March. A return to the mean, if you will. And as much as we could entertain the idea that it’s because some people “just don’t want it enough,” I also think it has to do with the approach we take in setting goals. So for today’s post, I want to give a few considerations for you to take into account when approaching the 2019 year.
1) Take into account the “whole self.” Before even etching out a goal, check in with your mind, your body, and the inner and outer orbit of those who you surround yourself with in your life. What would it look like for things to be different? How would these changes affect the different aspects of our existence? It’s good to check in so that we can have a multi-faceted approach to making these changes sustainable as well as fulfilling. For example - a goal could be “I will take a few extra shifts or overtime so that I can make more money and further my job/career.” Not a bad goal - but how will we take into account the extra time and energy spent at work? How will we counter-balance the extra energy spent with extra self-care? How will our relationships be impacted by this? How will our mind be impacted by this? Of course, there are exceptions, but sustainability is an important variable to take into account - and that can be achieved when we consider the whole person.
2) Don’t go big or go home. Lofty goals sound great in our heads in the beginning. I get the mindset - “shoot for the sun, maybe you’ll land on the moon.” But as soon as we start to see that the goal we set is more distant than we thought, then we get discouraged. Then we start to doubt ourselves. And that’s all it takes for us to arrive to the idea that it’s not worth doing in the first place. I recommend that when making a resolution, try to consider goals that are reasonable.
3) Make your resolutions concrete, measurable, and attainable. This is an idea adopted by lots of clinicians. Compose a goal that is concrete. For example, instead of saying “I will love myself more,” break it down into actions you can take - “I will practice self-compassion on a daily basis with meditation, exercise, positive affirmations, and interacting with my support system once a day.” Notice how this is also measurable in that we can easily evaluate whether or not we engaged in those actions for that day. Allowing ourselves to quantify our efforts makes it so that we can better track our progress and build confidence in ourselves. And finally, and I know this comes back to point #1, but we’re making goals that are attainable to us so that we can build a foundation of growth, rather than subscribing to all-or-nothing thinking.
4) Share them with the right people. I wrote a post on boundaries already, but this can most certainly be applied to resolutions. Be careful who you share your goals and especially challenges with. Take some time to develop an understanding of your support system as well as your environment. This includes social media and certain social circles/communities. Reflect on what it is that you need most from your support system to encourage you as you strive for change. Some of the changes we want to make come from pretty intimate places, so don’t jeopardize the progress you want to make because you shared your journey with less-than-supportive figures in your life.
And that should about do it! Hope you all reading this have a Happy New Year and whatever that your goals or resolutions are, that you take care of yourselves! Until next time!
See ya in 2019!