This month, we discuss setting realistic goals and self-care in the new year.
2022 is here. After two tough years that featured several starts and stops, many are eager to start this January and set and achieve new personal goals. This is where a classic tradition of making New Year’s resolutions, or what we will refer to interchangeably as goals or intentions, can be really helpful in centering yourself and setting attainable goals for the New Year.
We want to take the time, before addressing that, to emphasize first that for many, maintaining yourself through essential self-care (sleep, food, hydration, and scheduled rest) may be the most helpful and attainable goal, and it is ok for it to be the primary focus. Many people, such as these local NBC anchors, go so far as to say “just wing it,” in the face of traditional resolutions. Here are some examples of essential self-care, and the line between self-care and seeking further support.
Alongside self-care, if and when you seek to accomplish these changes, it is helpful to set a few small, concrete attainable goals alongside longer term ones. Sometimes people set themselves up for failure by aiming for too many changes too quickly, or attempting too broad or sweeping a change out the gate. Instead, focus on a few goals that can be turned into digestible steps. For instance, “lose weight” can be turned into “eat servings of vegetables or fruit three times this week,” or “go for a brisk walk at least twice this week.” It can be helpful to track your progress as well, making self-care an active routine increases the odds of success. A calendar or daily checklist can help, or one of the apps listed here. This series of tips and stories from NPR offers realistic tailored wellness tips and tricks for those who do wish to set an approachable goal for the new year.
Often what impacts success is expectations, and the way you frame your goals can affect them! Many feel that a phrase like “New Year, New You” can be an incentive to push themselves forward on a goal, but for others, the phrase itself sets forth difficult expectations. Expecting enormous change of oneself, (pandemic or not) can set you up for a loss of momentum. Think about how you name and affirm your resolutions.
Many people become discouraged and self-critical if they begin to slip up or struggle with meeting their goals. You are only human! Set your expectations appropriately, some days you will miss your goals and that does not mean you have failed to achieve them for the year. Remember, it’s OK if the goal is not met. Sometimes people find it helpful to take a longer look back and forward instead, asking themselves where they want to be a year from today, and focus on general self-care.
Finally, we want to acknowledge that for many, 2021 has been a difficult year, and sometimes talking to a professional can help with setting goals, as well as providing support, connection, and an outlet for stress, depression, anxiety, and more. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at the Employee Assistance Program at 617-635-2200 for immediate assistance. We can help connect you to long-term resources as well.
We wish you good luck and good health going into the New Year.