Post written by John Smart, LSCSW, Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker
The New Year can be a challenging time as well as a time for hope. Often, the New Year is associated with celebrations, resolutions, and higher expectations for ourselves, and life in general. This can be energizing, or it may feel overwhelming, especially for those of us whose spirits are weary from the pressures of the past year. For this reason, it is important to consider how we can recharge our spirts and nurture our well-being while looking for ways to grow in the coming year.
As we wind-down the holiday season and look ahead, we can take time to reflect on our strengths, aspirations and values. Questions to ask ourselves might be: How are my actions reflecting what has meaning to me? What am I grateful for? What have I enjoyed that also adds energy to my life? What am I doing that gives me a sense of purpose and what are my skills, talents and resources, and how do I plan to use them?
This may sound a bit idealistic, and challenging to put into action, but often we can discover answers to these questions when we ask ourselves why we would like to achieve the goals we set for ourselves. For instance, improving diet and exercising more is a very common New Year’s resolution, and one I happen to be considering. This is important to me because my health impacts other areas of life that have meaning, such as the amount of energy I have to enjoy the outdoors and get things done around the house. It also impacts the quality and quantity of time I have with friends and loved ones.
Keeping in mind why we are making healthier choices can impact how we do that in practical ways – we might exercise through enjoying nature on walks with friends, rather than telling ourselves we’re doing time on a treadmill as though it’s a punishment. Rather than trying to live on smoothies and salads, we might consider cooking healthy meals together with family, creating opportunities for conversation and making memories of collaborating around great recipes, or sharing laughter about the ones that don’t work out so well.
Be kind to yourself along the way.
Whatever your hopes and goals for the new year, please be kind to yourself along the way. Check-in with yourself often, celebrating your progress and successes, and asking yourself what support you might need when struggling to move ahead with goals. In life, we are all works in progress, and none of us can go it alone.