Happy New Year!

Written by Brittany Senseman, LPC-S

Did my title just make some of you cringe? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. A new year can be daunting when everyone is talking about all the wonderful things they’re going to accomplish and how they’ll change into a super human who does everything “right” and eats lots of kale with chia seeds.

While desires to change and create good habits are great, the mindset around making those changes is often unproductive. Sometime around January 1st, we identify resolutions that need to be made and make a mental note or maybe even go so far as to write them down. This feels great to have a goal and  know what will ultimately improve our quality of life! Then comes the hard part… the follow through.

Depending on the gap between the new resolution and the current level of functioning, we may be able to follow through for weeks, possibly months. But because the new goals are often a big stretch, the actual changes are short-lived. Here’s where the sense of failure comes in – the defeat. Now those resolutions are not so helpful. They pretty much just serve as a weapon used to beat up oneself.

Not sure about you, but I’m kind of done with this cycle.

Instead of becoming a super human, shoot for becoming a better human. Forget all those goals you’re supposed to want, and aim for things that will make you feel good at the end of each day. Pick one thing that will make your day feel productive, and do it. Let me give you an example of what I mean:

If organizing a one-inch stack of papers will help you feel like you accomplished something, that’s what you should do. Attempting to create an entirely new filing system for three years’ worth of papers in one day will most certainly overwhelm you. Just focus on one inch at a time. If you can’t find a place for a piece of paper, and it’s not trash, make a new folder.

Now, what makes you feel accomplished can be entirely different from what makes another person feel accomplished. We’re all in varying places of progress in each facet of our lives. Exercise may be easy for you, but organizing isn’t – and vice versa. Let’s not minimize a loved one’s effort. Similarly, let’s not minimize our own effort but instead give ourselves credit for an attempt to change.

Change is… difficult, very difficult, extremely difficult, nearly impossible! Don’t lose heart when it gets hard. Know that you’re in the best company in this struggle. This road is not a straight line. There are lots of ups and downs and sometimes sideways deviations. Give yourself credit for your achievements and grace for your disappointments. Just don’t stop, and I bet next year the words “Happy New Year” won’t be so scary.

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