New Year, New You
By Charity Hagains MA, LPC-S
Each new year brings new opportunity, new plans, and new goals. Many of us sit over a bowl of black eyed peas constructing resolutions that we strive to achieve in the coming months. For some, this ritual is daunting. Filled with memories of years that our dreams went unrealized, we can often feel overwhelmed with doubt that this year will be any different. Thankfully, there is hope. This year can be a new beginning and those goals can be achieved. Fear and self admonishment don’t have to be a part of this fresh start. Here are a few simple tips to help you on your journey towards an accomplished 2013.
Set Realistic Expectations
Don’t expect that on January 1st a magical wind will blow in and make this day any different than the previous 365. If you struggle with maintaining a healthy diet this will likely still be difficult. For example, there is no need to make a sweeping declaration of “I will never eat sweets again!” You will likely eat sweets again, and that is okay. Making large changes to your daily diet that are hard to stick with can cause negative feelings that won’t help you achieve your goal. A realistic expectation might be “I will only have sweets once a week.” This is a much more manageable goal and one you will probably be able to accomplish. Making small changes, celebrating your successful days, and cutting yourself a break on less successful days will help you feel a greater sense of positive achievement and keep you focused.
Start Small and Build
You may have a number of life changes you would like to make this year. While we would all love to meet those goals as soon as possible, that is usually not the way lasting change takes place. If your goal is to exercise more, don’t set a goal of working out 5 days a week or running 5 miles a day. Start with 1 day and half a mile. The next week add another day and so on. This will help prevent burn out and keep you on track with your overall goal of becoming more fit.
Give Yourself Monthly Themes
Set a monthly theme for your goals. Write this theme down and make it the focus of your mental and physical energy. For example, “January: Focus on Self-Care.” This can range from weekly massages, to daily meditation, to any activity that helps you feel more centered and positive about yourself. Try to incorporate this theme by making it a priority in your day.
Give Yourself Daily Reminders
We are all more likely to achieve our goals when we have a visual daily reminder of them. Write your goals on a piece of paper and place it somewhere you will see it everyday. Good spots are the mirror, refrigerator, or (if your a caffeine junkie like me) the coffee maker. Read your goal while you brush your teeth, prepare dinner, or wait for the coffee to brew. The phrase “If you can say it, you can do it” plays a major role here, because as you read and reread your goals they unconsciously become more achievable.
Don’t be afraid to rewrite your goals. If you find that you have set an unrealistic expectation or you simply don’t have the same motivation for that particular goal, change it. Change is good. Experience can’t be defined as a success or a failure. It is knowledge and insight, and even unpleasant experiences have value. Working towards a goal can be just as meaningful as achieving that goal. Acknowledge your journey, not just the destination.
This year can be the year for you. With a broader definition of success and the pursuit of positivity in your daily life, you can make every aspiration a reality. Remember to celebrate, enjoy, and be gracious every day and this will be an amazing 2013!