Kicking off a Great 2016

BY: Christine Peat, PhD

DATE; January 4, 2016

The New Year is upon us and with it comes the usual temptation to make New Year’s resolutions and setting goals for self-improvement. Although the intent behind such resolutions is not inherently negative, they have become increasingly intermingled with a slew of potential insults to our self-esteem and our confidence making it challenging to keep resolutions that are encouraging and uplifting. Everywhere you go there are commercials, social media posts, and discussions about how a “new year equals a new you,” and there is a seemingly endless onslaught of oh-so-helpful tips and tricks to help you “shed the holiday weight.” Based on this type of media consumption, one would assume that the turning of a new year is tantamount to dieting, preoccupation with obtaining “the bikini body” in time for summer, and becoming an improved version of who you were last year. What is perhaps even more insidious than this body-shaming propaganda is the message that focusing on all these things promotes “health.” That somehow depriving oneself of a balanced diet and exercising endless hours per day is all well and good because it is in the name of health. However, it is important to recognize that these pressures to “kick off the new year with a new and healthy you!” are the same old appearance-focused messages as last year, just topped off with a pretty bow and this year’s newest fad. So instead of focusing on how to improve your shape, weight, and/or appearance, here are a few suggestions of what you might to do keep yourself encouraged all year long:

  • Make a “Rememberloutions Jar” in which you write down anything that has made you proud, happy, or encouraged throughout the year. At the end of the year, you can pull each one out as a reminder of all the great things that happened in 2016.
  • Read this awesome blog post by our dear friend McCall Dempsey.
  • Invest in yourself by pursuing activities that are meaningful to you and/or spending time with those you love. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to cook. Or salsa. Are there books you’ve been meaning to read but keep putting off? Perhaps there’s a good friend with whom you want to take an awesome trip (or just spend a fun weekend with!). You can decide where you want to invest your time, but make sure that investment pays you back with a new skill, a sense of satisfaction, or some great memories!
  • Highlight the things you do well – not what you need to change.
  • Make a list of what you’re grateful and thankful for.

Remember that with each of the suggestions above, the focus is on encouragement and growth and that neither necessarily mean that you need to change some intrinsic part of you. Remember too that the focus here is on your intention, and not necessarily the outcome. Be kind to yourself. So you never got around to taking that cooking class? There’s always next year. You still haven’t read that book? It’s not going anywhere. Maybe the best New Year’s resolution you can make is a commitment to love yourself regardless of whether or not you made any changes at all.