New Year-New You?
The New Year’s holiday seems to bring about a sense of hope for the upcoming year. We tend to reflect on the past 12 months and look forward to what the new year will bring. Unfortunately, as with most things, our society likes to go overboard with this concept. We make big promises to ourselves about how life is going to change-we’re going to lose weight, go to the gym, eat better, be kinder, less stressed, etc. Basically, we say to ourselves (and the rest of the world via social media), that this year is the year we’re finally going to be perfect!
The problem is, New Year’s Day comes and we realize it’s just another day! We go to bed on New Year’s Eve after the resolutions and wake up to see New Year’s Day is just a Tuesday. No magical erasing of the past with a brand new start. If there were dirty socks on the floor when you went to sleep that night-there will still be dirty socks on the floor when you wake up. The only new thing will be your calendar.
Not that I’m trying to rain on anyone’s parade-I’m simply pointing out that whatever was holding you back from achieving your goals in December will still be there in January. Your busy schedule, financial constraints, family tensions-they don’t go away because it’s a New Year. What has to change is your mindset and how you try to achieve your goals. Too often people get frustrated and give up midway through January! I believe this is because we set our expectations of ourselves too high, then beat ourselves up when we fall short of this nearly impossible ideal. To go from never going to the gym at all to a resolution to go 5 days a week will be pretty difficult to maintain. Maybe it’ll be fine the first week or two-but then, maybe your child gets the flu or something crazy happens at work, messing up your schedule so you only make it to the gym twice one week. Feeling discouraged and weak, you beat yourself up and finally find yourself back to not going at all.
The problem with our “Go big or go home” thinking is that it just doesn’t apply to creating long lasting change. Here are some tips for creating change-anytime of year!
-Acknowledge you are valuable and worthwhile just the way you are currently: Improving and growing is important! But it doesn’t mean you’re “bad” the way you are now.
-Make sure your goal is achievable and concrete: To say “I want to eat better” or “I want to lose weight” are difficult to adhere to without a solid plan. If you want to “eat better”-write down exactly what that means to you-more fruits and vegetables? If so, how many servings per day? If it’s “I want to lose weight” develop a step by step plan of what that will entail such as working out a certain amount per week, and what will change in your eating habits.
-Give yourself a break: Chances are you’ll have days where you revert back to old habits-it doesn’t mean you need to give up and tell yourself you’re a loser. This is where the real work begins-being gentle with yourself when you don’t live up to your expectations can be difficult, but it’s very important. Get back up and start again without judgment.
-Learn from mistakes: Because you’re human, you won’t do this perfectly. If you don’t achieve what you wanted to go back and see what got in the way and what you can do differently going forward.
Are you struggling with making changes in your life? Achieving goals using Cognitive Behavioral therapy methods are extremely effective. A licensed mental health professional can help! Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services at 407-443-8862 to make an appointment with one of our experienced counselors.