Setting New Year’s Resolutions: Be Kind to Yourself
The beginning of the calendar for many of us marks the season to set new intentions. Whether via social media, various news outlets, or our favorite performers, society instills in us that now is the time to realize our goals and get serious about them. While there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to improve oneself mentally, emotionally, or physically, unrealistic expectations can impede our ability to achieve our desired outcomes. This year, we urge you to be kind to yourself and set realistic goals that bring you joy.
Setting resolutions can inspire motivation and improve mental-wellbeing, and goals vary depending on personal circumstances. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an inability to meet our objectives can engender “feelings of failure that can ultimately lower our self-esteem, which can trigger stress and anxiety.” In order to set ourselves up for success in 2024, SAMHSA provided some pivotal questions to reflect upon before implementing our goals: “Does the very thought of making a New Year’s resolution excite you or overwhelm you? How can I make simple day-to-day changes that will help me achieve success? What are the little goals that will allow me to build momentum, so I’m headed in a positive direction?” It is easy to become trapped in an “all or nothing” mindset when we are met with the exciting energy of a new year. However, intentions are not created for immediate satisfaction – even if we are not seeing the progress that we had hoped for after the first few weeks of January, that does not mean our goals were made in vain. Patience is a virtue, and perfection hinders progress.
If this season does not inspire you to start new habits, you are not alone. Thousands of cultures worldwide indicate International Nowruz Day as the most favorable time for new beginnings. Nowruz directly translates to “new day” and is celebrated on March 21st, the Spring Equinox. Sometimes, we fall short of our goals simply because we are expected to execute them in the dead of winter. Lack of sunlight and bone-chilling weather is more than enough to make us want to stay inside, indulge, and sleep more instead of getting up at 5am to workout everyday. Mother Nature reminds us that all living things must take the time to rest and recuperate in order to bloom into the most regenerative versions of ourselves.
Whether we are setting goals in January, March, or maybe not at all, we must remember to always show ourselves grace. New Year’s resolutions were never meant to be one-size-fits-all. However we choose to celebrate and/or engage in self-reflection does not determine our self-worth, nor does it dictate how the rest of our year will play out. Let us lead with compassion in 2024 – for ourselves, and for others.