It is New Years Eve and the talk of goals and resolutions is in full swing. Here at New Leaf Counseling, we want to provide you with a few practical tips for setting intentions and keeping them. In addition, we want to provide you with some prompts for reflection. As you enter the new year, it can be therapeutic to take time to look back on this past year and hold gratitude for your experiences and pride for what you have overcome.
So before we talk about moving forward, let's take a few moments to look back and reflect on 2021. It is not lost on us that for some, this exercise could be tender or emotional. If processing this past year feels traumatic in any way, we recommend doing this with someone you trust or even a counselor.
Take a moment to think about something that you are grateful for from this past year. This can be anything from a relationship, to a new job, to a trip or experience. The important part is that you are taking time to slow down and make space for the good things that have happened.
You become what you hold inside of you so if you are only making time to hold in negative energy or memories than you will feel weighted down by negativity.
We like this practice because it reminds us that one can always find some good in the world, we just have to be willing to look for it.
Be Proud of Yourself
We think it is important to normalize naming things that you are proud of, including yourself.
There is a difference between being prideful and being proud of yourself.
There is a difference between thinking you are the best and naming the times that you did your best. What goals did you achieve this year? What habits, addictions or trials did you overcome? Some wounds are inflicted by others, some are inflicted by yourself...how have you taken steps to heal either? Take some time, write down your answer, reflect on them in your head. Next, practice sharing what you are proud of with others. Find someone you trust that will celebrate victories, big and small, with you and then share what you have processed with them.
If you are struggling to think of things you are proud of, you could be struggling with a negative self image. Find someone you trust and ask what they see in you. Ask what they have witnessed in you this past year and what they have seen you overcome. Let them share and try to receive it without making excuses or qualifying.
This can feel uncomfortable but discomfort is not synonymous with bad. Sometimes discomfort can be an indicator that something is new or that we need more practice as it- in this case, positive self-talk.
Don't Skip Grief
This last step may feel like the hardest but if you can, make space to grieve your losses from this past year.
In order to heal from your past, you have to feel it.
While we know this can feel heavy, we can promise that it does eventually bring relief. Sometimes people associate grief with the loss of a loved one and while that is a part of grief, it can also come from the loss of a dream, or the transition into a new season of life. What once was, is no longer what is and even though that can bring joy or excitement, it can also bring sadness. Allow yourself to grieve whatever you are saying goodbye to so that you can fully embrace what you are saying hello to.
Resolutions and Goals
As you think about goals and resolutions that you would like to start this new year, there are a few helpful tips that could make or break them.
First, start with realistic resolutions and with that, make a specific plan on how you will achieve them.
If you are wanting to eat healthier in 2022, think through what would be realistic for you as you get started. Maybe that would look like only getting fast food twice a week or eliminating soda on the week days. If you go into your resolutions thinking that is is going to be impossible, it probably will be.
With that, try to be as specific as possible with your planning to help yourself succeed.
Don't just say that you are going to work out in the new year, start realistically. For example, say you will go to the gym and Mondays and Fridays and walk outside on Wednesdays. The more specific you are with your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them.
After you set your resolutions, share them with someone you trust and see if they would be willing to help hold you accountable.
You are more likely to achieve a goal if you have someone doing it with you or encouraging you through it.
Last, give yourself permission to mess up, grace to fail and courage to start again.
We won't reach every goal immediately or perfectly but if we quit after every slip up or set back, we will never see change happen. You are most likely to achieve your goals if you are honest with yourself and others about your journey, surround yourself with support and remain realistic in your planning.
We know this last year was filled with heavy news, unknown situations and scary predications but we hope that as you look back on your year, at a personal level, that you will find moments of joy, laughter and love from those who you surround yourself.
Happy New Year,
New Leaf Counseling