It’s that time when people set goals for the year ahead – New Year! New Me!

On the one hand, I encourage making positive changes to improve wellbeing. Still, “New Year, New Me” makes me cringe because I know most resolutions don’t last, and the concept isn’t great for anyone’s mental health. Here’s why.

The problem with New Year’s Resolutions

Firstly – New me sounds a lot like there’s a lot wrong with Old me, and that’s a recipe for low self-esteem.
Also, people make the mistake of setting unrealistic goals and inevitably “fall off the wagon” and then feel worse about themselves.
The result can be increased anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.

But on the other hand, how can you make positive changes to your health and wellbeing without falling into the New Year, New Me trap.

 

NEW YEAR GOALS
Notice if you are thinking you “should” be a certain way

We often get messages about how we “should” look, be, or act. Thoughts like “I will be good enough when…..” take over, and we feel like if we achieve a set goal, we will be good enough. For example, if we lose a certain amount of weight, fit into a specific size or earn a certain amount of money.
These messages undermine your self-esteem and make you feel bad.

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself as I truly am, then I can change

Carl Rogers

Check your goals are aligned with improving your health and wellbeing and not with “fixing” something about yourself – for example:

Eating more veggies to feel healthier and have more energy is an excellent goal, as it comes from a place of self-care and looking after yourself. Living on veggie soup to drop a dress size fast so you will look “good enough” comes from a place of not being enough as you are.

Check if your goals align with your values.

I ask many clients to identify their values – these are the most important things to you. A few examples of values are

  • family
  • friendship
  • loyalty
  • creativity
  • learning
  • kindness
  • determination
  • boldness
  • security
  • success

There are no right or wrongs here, but having a clear sense of your values is important because you can use that as a guidepost for your life. 

Many of us pick up other people’s values and feel unhappy because we live in a way other people tell us we “should” live.   If your values differ from those around you and in your culture you can end up pushing your needs aside to fit in, a recipe for unhappiness.  Get a sense of what your values are and make sure these are reflected in your life.
For example, if creativity is important to you but you don’t have any creative outlets, a good goal could be introducing some into your life.  Perhaps you could join an art class or a writing group?

Ditch the all-or-nothing mindset

Many people have an all-or-nothing approach to change, which works well until they forget to complete their goal or eat a “banned” food. Nobody is perfect, including you – a takeaway does not make you a failure! Also, forget the idea that if you fail in your goals in January, you never will – if you’d like to make positive changes to improve your mental or physical health, you can do that anytime. Just be gentle with yourself and start again.

About Me

My name is Anna and and I am a Counsellor/Psychotherapist specialising in Anxiety.  I used to wake up in the middle of the night with anxious thoughts racing through my mind and missed out on so many things due to my anxiety.  I sought help, and counselling helped me so much. I trained as a therapist myself, and now I specialise in helping other people work through anxiety.

If you’d like to find out more about working with me you can book a free 20 min introductory call by clicking here