New Year’s Resolutions: Yea or Nay
By: Maria Barcelos, MA, Executive Director, Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) | January 24, 2021
Setting New Year’s resolutions isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It can feel overwhelming for some and motivating for others. If they motivate you and you find them helpful to keep committed and achieve your goals throughout the year, great! If not, don’t worry! Carrying out meaningful actions each month, week or day can help you achieve your goals too. What are your life goals? What kind of life do you want to live? What are some actions you can take right now to start achieving them? How can you take your life goal and break it down into smaller components over the year?
Our mindset influences how we view the world, and how we view ourselves. Trauma skews that view and takes us off our course. There is hope, and transformation is possible. Often transformation starts in conversations with others. I am grateful to my colleague Brad Hutchinson, who shared the following statement with me over six years ago now, “What you focus on expands for you.” I’m not sure if Brad knows just how impactful those words were for me. Thanks, Brad! What I was focusing on at the time, was taking me off my course to achieving a University education, writing articles such as this one, and being a more present parent to my two children. The state of stuckness I was experiencing was rooted in fear, anxiety and inner unhelpful thoughts of “You’re not perfect” or “You’re going to fail” or “It’s too late for you to do that.”
Bring on the helpful beliefs! (that curiously are sometimes in direct competition with the ones I mentioned above). Helpful beliefs are core underlying beliefs that you hold about yourself. I am worthy; I am a good person were two of mine that helped me move forward with some of my BIG life goals. What are some of the helpful beliefs, and thoughts that you have that keep you focused on your healing journey? These are your guiding beliefs. As survivors, sometimes, our minds shift to unhelpful thoughts, rooted in shame, fear, and despair. You are not alone. There is hope and you can shift how you think about yourself and your experiences.
Here are some tips for setting SMART [Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Timely] goals and some of the strategies that have been helpful to keep me on the path of the life I want to live; the one filled with possibility, health, and happiness. This is not an exhaustive list. What other strategies have you tried that worked for you?
#1 Write them down – Writing your goals, including the steps you’re taking to achieve them, what potential obstacles you may encounter and how you plan to work through those, can help you stay on track! A vision board is also a great idea to visualize your goals! There are so many great examples online!
#2 Reward yourself with things that matter to you when accomplishing small or big goals! You deserve it. Celebrate. Personally, I love audiobooks on Audible! Remember, proactive rewards that won’t hinder your goals.
#3 Check-in and adjust – Sometimes priorities change, so do goals! Journalling helps me stay focused and accountable. How do you know it’s time to adjust your goal? Leave a comment on our social media pages!
#4 Engage in meaningful actions towards your goals. If you are spending time distracting yourself with other activities, how can you shift your focus back to your goals? What is meaningful to you? Who can you ask for support?
#5 Timing is important. When do you want to achieve your goal? Keep your timeline realistic. If you need a month to get it done, don’t plan for a deadline tomorrow!
#6 Visualize yourself achieving the goal. Deadlines keep me focused. Visualization helps me stay motivated. Does it work for you?
# 7 Stay the course by setting aside time to work on your goals daily, weekly, monthly! Seek support if you get “stuck.” I’m grateful to my awesome team for their support. Who’s on your team?
#8 Steer clear of unattainable goals. This may be self-sabotaging behaviour in action. Think about how and when you can achieve the goal. if it feels overwhelming, adjust the goal, seek support, and plan a new course. You can do this!
When we focus on what we have, we focus on what matters. What you focus on, expands for you!