‘Tis the Season for Resolutions

‘Tis the Season for Resolutions

One week into 2020 and New Year’s resolutions are in the air. But, do we really need this exact date to be goal-oriented or intentional in our lives? Of course not.

Holidays are all relevant. We give them meaning and define them based on what influences us, such as family, religion, traditions, culture, etc. We decide which days we want to engage in certain practices and which days to stop and honor something meaningful to us.

The other day, I was brainlessly scrolling through social media (yes, we therapists do it too!), and I stumbled upon an inspirational meme that said, “every day is a second chance.” thought, “January 1st can be any day!”

January 1st is just a moment in time when we celebrate new beginnings. But, why is the thought of an annual resolution so overwhelming?

It is possible that a year seems like a long time to commit to something. I don’t know about you, but I can barely commit to a monthly Netflix membership.

Maybe it’s the word ‘resolution?’ A resolution is firm and lacks flexibility. Therefore, if our perfectly imperfect selves do not hit the goal or resolution we set, it infers failure. YIKES!

So, if you are going to use a day to commit to a resolution, let’s make it less intimidating. As Dialectical Behavior Therapists, we use the phrase, “we are all doing the best we can and we still push for change.”  With that lens, one can reframe a resolution into a goal that we are committed to working at the best we can each day.

Here are some tips to consider in approaching the new year, any day of the year:

  1. Create intentions or goals with measurable and attainable steps.  If your intention or goal is vague (i.e. eat healthier, exercise more, meditate more), break it into smaller attainable and measurable action steps (i.e. eat one vegetable per day, run 3 times per week, incorporate a 10-minute meditation into my morning routine). This way, you can see your progress as you go.
  2. Be flexible with yourself.  If you don’t succeed, try again. If you find yourself falling out of alignment with your intention or goal, there is no need to beat yourself up or give up. You can just start over. We are all works in progress.
  3. Use encouraging self-talk.  Take some time to be mindful of your inner coaching voice. Is it encouraging or hostile? If you find that you are not meeting your own expectations, are you beating yourself up or figuring out a way to adjust your approach? You really are doing the best you can each day.
  4. Celebrate your small steps. Go ahead, cheer yourself on! When achieving the small attainable steps toward your goal, it is important to allow yourself to feel good about it. Give yourself incremental rewards along the way.
  5. Pace yourself. It’s not a race. New habits take time to implement and become natural. Pacing yourself will allow you to adjust, if needed. This new approach to life needs to be sustainable.

The important thing is that there is always opportunity on any day to commit to a goal or intention, even if it is small.

If you have already set a resolution or some goals for 2020, good for you!  If you haven’t yet, you can start today. Each day there is an opportunity to strive for change, and be kind to yourself in the process.

Authored by: Alison Trenk, MA, LCSW