Do New Years Resolutions Make Us Feel Bad About Ourselves?
I know we traditionally say to each other, “Happy New Year”, but today I want to talk a little about how sometimes the beginning of new year can be less than happy… and can launch us into a review of what we ‘should’ have done last year and therefore have already disappointed ourselves. Is anyone feeling me on this one?
Are you feeling down on yourself about how last year panned out? Or about the things you ‘planned to do’ but didn’t get accomplished?
It can be a fairly standard’ practice to do a personal ‘annual review’, especially around the time of the new year as we seemed to be almost programmed everywhere we go to be making resolutions.
It’s human nature (that I’m trying to get us to fight against…) to tend toward remembering things that went wrong versus things that went well, so when reviewing the year perhaps the list you’re left with is of where you feel you didn’t measure up. Working with your negative thoughts and inclinations can be considered a practice of optimism.
What if, instead of the beating ourselves up for where we fell short last year, we focused on what went well and focused on intentions and feelings we’d like, rather than the specifics of goals and objectives? If we imagine that set goal or resolution will bring us a feeling we would like (such as peacefulness, empowerment, healthiness), we can more easily attach ourselves on to the steps it might take to be in that intention. What’s more, it can guide our everyday actions if we can keep aligned with our intentions. For example, if my intention is peacefulness, I might choose to not engage with someone who seems to want to pick an argument with me. If my intention is love, perhaps I will be a bit more patient an supportive toward a friend or family member in need of some support (with clients, too, of course!)
So, intentions guide our goals and objectives.
Also, if you find yourself reflecting on the last year and feeling that you’re coming up short, perhaps it’s a good time to dig in to the question of what may be holding you back from those old resolutions. Was it not specific enough? Not realistic enough? Didn’t offer enough small steps (e.g., lose 50 lbs but not a plan as to how to achieve that in more of a week-by-week, day-by-day action)? Or a million other ways in which we may inadvertently sabotage ourselves.
What about what went well last year? What were you proud of? In what areas did you grow? Where did you branch out and challenge yourself? What were some moments that brought you joy? And, if you had just an awful and difficult year, How about the fact that you made it through?
All this to say, I’m endorsing as professional advice that you don’t have to set new years resolutions this year. You are off the hook! How about setting some intentions, and setting some intentions daily, that will guide you in your thoughts, actions, and goals for personal and professional growth – whatever the areas of priority are?
Remember, (and this may be a familiar Sue-ism to those of you whom are clients): the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing… and the main thing is your mental health and well-being, your relationships, and your growth as a human being (not a human doing).