‘Tis the season for new year’s resolutions and striving towards the best version of ourselves. People often view this as a time to start or return to therapy, make a commitment to a meditation or fitness routine, or otherwise focus on improving your personal, physical or social wellness. And for many, it’s also a time to reflect, almost comically, on how short-lived resolutions tend to be.
If you’ve had a tough time sticking to your resolutions, it may be worth rethinking how you set them. When it comes to setting goals for yourself at work, you’ve likely been advised to set SMART goals — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. In the process of setting your benchmarks for the year, you may spend some time reflecting on what went well for you last year, or even ask a colleague for their perspective. By building on what works, you can wisely create a few goals about which you feel pretty confident, in addition to some that are more of a stretch.
Why is it, then, that we fixate on our flaws rather than our strengths when we set new year’s resolutions? “I shouldn’t have indulged over the holidays and need to lose this winter weight,” rather than “I’ll feel healthier if I’m active.” Either statement might help you get to the gym, but the latter uses a positive attitude, and moves away from the criticism and shame that so often stifle the progress we seek. What if, instead, you made timely and attainable goals that build on your existing success and capabilities, and align with your core values and hopes?
When you’re thinking about positive changes you’d like to make in the new year, it might help to start by acknowledging what is working for you. What were the moments in the past year when you felt strong, proud, joyful, connected, peaceful, or otherwise “good”? How can you continue to grow in those areas, as well as inviting curiosity about areas where your progress might still be a bit more early-stage?
Starting from a position of positivity can help you to better recognize and build on your strengths, setting you up to make more lasting and effectual changes that will improve your life and wellness. Regardless of your resolutions for the year ahead, we wish you a very healthy and prosperous 2020!