A New Way of Planning For A New Year

Jan 5, 2023

Becca Guenther, LMSW, CGP, Grief Counselor

For many, early January brings fresh starts, motivation, and anticipation. We may hope that the year ahead is the best one yet (or at least an upgrade from last year) or that this is the year we finally meet that goal we’ve been dreaming of. In fact, most of us have likely heard the phrase “new year, new me!” at some point or another.

There’s something about January that can evoke motivation in a way that other months just can’t. However, sometimes the resolutions and goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year can be hard to accomplish; some examples why include: your resolution may be unrealistic, too specific (or not specific enough), or based in shaming yourself for lacking something or having too much of something else. And as the year continues on, often time’s motivation peters out, life gets busy, and soon enough we may find ourselves at the end of another year, criticizing ourselves for not sticking with the resolutions we set back in January. Thus continues a frustrating and painful cycle.

Shifting your perspective away from criticism to one of compassion for yourself can create space to show yourself more grace, loving kindness, and to perhaps more easily connect back to your motivation once the newness of the year wears off.

Whether you yourself have a tricky relationship with resolutions or if you’re simply looking to try something new, why not change up the way you plan for this New Year?

Instead of focusing on what you want to do (or not do) this year, consider centering your goal(s) on how you want to feel. You can explore this through journaling, internally reflecting quietly over your morning coffee, or in conversation with a loved one. Ask yourself what you want to feel more of this year, or conversely, what you want to feel less of. Do you want to feel strong? Peaceful? Confident? Your answer(s) can serve as a powerful guiding force in how you navigate the year ahead and what you prioritize.

Another way of planning for the New Year is by selecting a “word of the year” that you would like to live by; this is similar to the above, however in this method you will be guiding your decisions and plans based around a word or theme, which may or may not be a feeling word. For example, if your word of the year is “adventure,” you might use that as a reminder to schedule in fun and exciting activities throughout the year; if you chose the words “peace” or “relax,” you may be reminded to seek out moments of respite and rest during the year.

Choosing a feeling or word to pursue this year may offer unique experiences, as well as take off some of the pressure of reaching highly specific goals that can be expressed through the traditional resolutions we are all familiar with. These traditional resolutions can be wrought with shame, criticism, and judgement of ourselves. But there is another way to welcome in the new year that honors and accepts yourself as you are right now, without feeling like you need to embrace the “new year, new me!” frame of mind in order to do that. Shifting your perspective away from criticism to one of compassion for yourself can create space to show yourself more grace, loving kindness, and to perhaps more easily connect back to your motivation once the newness of the year wears off.

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