As we step into the New Year we start thinking about big plans and resolutions, but how often do we actually employ change in the long term? And how helpful is the idea of a “resolution” in order to spark growth?
By now most of us know that the promises we make ourselves usually fall off the radar within the first month of the New Year. At this point, most of my clients have forgotten their initial intentions to change and find they are falling back into old patterns. There are a few issues with “resolutions” that can hold people back from meaningful changes.
Firstly, New Years resolutions have been socially characterized as making big changes. Most of the goals we set don’t feel tangible and require a total lifestyle overhaul. I suggest focusing on small more realistic goals instead.
I have also noticed that resolutions become an opportunity for self-reflection through an overly critical lens. There is little to no emphasis on our strengths and how we managed to navigate our year, even if it was a hard or disappointing one. Trying to find motivation after looking at your weaknesses is tricky. Instead, I often pose questions like, what from the last year would like to bring forward into the next year? What have you been doing right? What do you want more of that you’ve already managed to invite into your life?
Finally, most culturally encouraged resolutions surround external change. Loosing weight, getting a new job, finding a new hobby etc. Although some of these might be important to us, they don’t reflect the internal growth that can often hold more meaning. These external resolutions send the message that the new hobby or weight loss will create the fulfillment we are searching for. I challenge my clients to consider focusing on mindset work as a deeper and more sustainable way to achieve happiness. Making simple changes to our internal dialogue- catching ourselves in negative self-talk, setting healthier boundaries, learning to rely on internal validation vs. external validation are all examples of how to start this process.