New Year, Now What?
As we close the month of December, we reach that time where New Year resolutions start surfacing everywhere. This is met with intense reactions, as people polarize with their biases about whether or not making such goals is worth it. By now, it is fairly common knowledge that most of us “mess up” or entirely abandon our resolutions before we even get used to writing down the new date.
Generally speaking, I do believe that we want to be healthy, happy beings. We want success and love and good things to propel us forward. We want to be good people, even if we sometimes don’t know what we’re doing. And, so, we make resolutions with positive intentions in mind, even though they are all too frequently unrealistic, unobtainable, grandiose, or vague.
This happens because our society has branded the New Year to symbolize a fresh beginning, a revitalization, a blank slate- as if everything has the potential to change at 12:01 am. Talk about pressure when nothing but the date is different.
It’s not that I don’t believe in the reflection process that comes with this time of year. I’m a therapist, so I obviously love reflection! I think it’s beautiful to look back on what we have achieved- and not yet achieved- where we have done well, and where we could have done better. This is a natural and healthy part of anyone’s journey; we should be willing to look inwards and interpret what’s actually happening inside.
We all need to have aspirations, goals, and movement to light the fires beneath us. Goals give us an incentive to keep pushing and trekking along. We need to constantly be “working” towards something, and each person’s definition of “working” will be intricately unique to his or her life circumstance.
If you want to set a goal for yourself this new year (and it’s absolutely okay if you don’t want to!), I’ve always loved the Wheel of Life Assessment as a graphic, measuring tool to gauge our general sense of balance, wholeness, and fulfillment in the fundamental areas of daily living. It’s important to answer these simple questions quickly and honestly (without overthinking) and then spend some time reflecting on where you want to improve and how you plan to go about doing that. It’s also important to practice taking a nonjudgmental, curious stance, rather than a critical one, when examining the results (because shaming ourselves into doing something rarely contains lasting power).
As we are all parts to a whole, we only benefit by reflecting on the connections of all of our areas, as in our physical self influences our mental self, which, in turn, affects our spiritual, interpersonal, and financial selves. All of these parts matter, and having a solid mental health tends to require fulfillment and satisfaction in all of them.When one area is “weakened,” we tend to overcompensate in other areas, which lead to feelings of imbalance and general disarray.
It will not be perfect, because it doesn’t have to be, but low scores tend to indicate some kind of emotional bankruptcy, some kind of neglect or fear or general “stuckness.” This can be summed up to say that the area that stresses out the most is typically the most important to address.
So, whether we make a goal or don’t- make a plan or not- we owe ourselves the honor of reflecting where we have been, where we currently are, and where we want to be going in this new year.