Updated: Sep 20
The New Year is upon us! It’s time to focus on your personal growth and put yourself at the top of the list. Here are 5 steps to help you prepare for the New Year:
1. Self Reflect
There is only one place to begin, and this is with self-reflection. You can look at how you handled things this year, and reflect so that you can make improvements going forward.
Self-reflection is vital because it is the key to self-awareness. It gives us the ability to look at our actions, emotions, feelings, and thoughts in a neutral manner. You can, therefore, look at yourself with curiosity and interest.
There are a number of different approaches that you can use when it comes to self-reflection. Above all, be honest with yourself. You will struggle to move forward if you’re not truthful and honest in your reflections of yourself and your actions.
Many people like to use a self-reflection journal. This can be used to keep track of all of your thoughts and actions.
There are several benefits associated with writing in your self-reflection journal throughout the year. It will enable you to get ideas and thoughts out of your head and onto paper so you can review them in a concrete manner. It will also help you align future actions with your reflected experiences and values. That way, you can make better sense of things that have happened, as well as speculating as to why something is the way it is.
2. Out With The Old, In With The New
Next, it is all about out with the old and in with the new. If you want to enjoy personal growth throughout the coming year, and the years that follow, you will benefit from leaving bad habits in the past and developing new, more positive habits instead.
Of course, this can be much easier said than done! It can be difficult to break a habit and replace it with something new. However, there are several steps that you can take to assist you on this journey.
First, identify your triggers. Let’s say you are someone who is overly self-critical. You need to look at when and why you self-criticize. Is there something that makes you more inclined to do this? Are you harsher on yourself in some circumstances in particular? Getting to the bottom of what causes you to act, think, and feel the way you do will enable you to be more self aware, which is the first step toward breaking a bad habit.
Next, focus on why you want to make these changes. Replacing something old with something new should ideally enrich your life in one way or another, from making you more organized to reducing your stress levels. Visualize how your life will be in this new state, without the bad habit or negative behavior holding you back. List the benefits in your journal. Identifying the specifics of why you want to break the habit in question can provide incentive and internal motivation, which will help you to remain focused on your goals and objectives.
Needless to say, there are many different ways that “out with the old and in with the new” can be interpreted. For example, you may replace your paper filing system with a digital one. Once you have done this, there is no looking back. It is done. However, for the scenarios more related to your own actions and state of mind, you may have some slip-ups along the way.
In this process, it is important to avoid being hard on yourself. Changes can be difficult to enact, and they do not happen overnight. Give yourself time and be kind to yourself throughout the process.
3. Set Intentions
The third step that we advise for the New Year is setting your intentions. There are a number of different benefits associated with being intentional. One of the main benefits is that it forces you to be mindful of your actions and focus on what you want rather than what you should be doing. Should statements increase anxiety and can be self-defeating, whereas want statements target your goals and personal pursuits. Being intentional puts you in the driver’s seat and sets the course for your day, week, or month.
By being more mindful, intentions can help to improve your effectiveness. They can also keep you centered and impact various aspects of your life. So, there is certainly much to be gained by setting intentions for the New Year.
Some people create a personal mantra to overcome mental obstacles when setting intentions. To do this, think about what it is that you really want, and then think about the different ways you are subconsciously preventing yourself from getting there. This process helps to uncover your personal critic, which can fill you with self-defeating thoughts and quickly shift you off track by zapping your motivation. To override your personal critic, we recommend replacing negative self-talk with factual statements and avoid using all-or-none language. This is known as cognitive reframing. For example, if you have intentions to get to bed by 10 PM on weeknights and you miss the mark, avoid self-statements that include always or never (“I never do anything right” or “I’m always late”), which are unlikely to be accurate and lead to more negative attributions. A string of negative dialogue sets the stage for guilt and self-perceived failure. Instead, consider reframing your statements to be more factual and specific to the situation (example: “I tend to get caught up in social media and lose track of time. I will set a daily alarm to put screens away by 9:45 PM.”). Reframing slip-ups to be fact-based and situation-specific will keep you from spiraling into a self-defeating loop. As a daily motivator, you may consider adding a positive mantra, such as “I am aiming for progress, not perfection,” which can help you persist, despite setbacks, until you have accomplished what you set out to achieve.
Of course, having certain intentions is only the start of it. You want to be able to implement them effectively. To do this, find different ways to incorporate your intentions into your routine. For example, while you are making your morning coffee or breakfast, take the time to state some of your intentions for the day that lies ahead. Sharing your intentions with a supportive person in your life or writing them in a daily journal can also help to make your goals more concrete and keep you accountable.
4. Get Started
This is the point that many people struggle with. Yes, it is all well and good establishing solid intentions and being clear about what you want to achieve throughout the New Year. However, putting the plan into action can be the most difficult part. For many, this is where procrastination sets in, and things become postponed, which puts us at risk for another guilt trip.
So, how do you get started with your goals and increase the chances that you stay on track? It begins with thinking about the results that you want to see. Reminding yourself of why you are doing this in the first place can help to give you the push that you need to get started.
To keep your intentions in the forefront, consider writing down your goals and putting together an action plan. By putting your aims, intentions, and the steps you are going to take in writing, it makes it realistic and tangible, and it helps you to establish a meaningful framework for what you aim to do in order to get to where you want to be.
Be cautious about setting intentions that are vague or nondescript. When you set goals in vague terms, success can seem unattainable, which makes it difficult to get started. You feel like you have a mountain to climb and it becomes overwhelming. However, if you define your intentions in specific terms and break them into smaller, more manageable chunks, you’re more likely to get started and stay on track. It is also important to make sure the intentions are measurable. In other words, how do you know that you’ve achieved your mark? Ideally, measurable goals are clearly defined. For example, consider the difference between “I want to eat healthy this year” versus “I want to eat a serving of one fruit or vegetable each day.” You will be able to log your progress on a daily basis with intentions that are specific and measurable.
You may also want to put together a timeline, which includes mini-milestones along the way. By doing this, you will find that you are able to navigate through your plan with greater ease. Not only does this help you to get started but it enables you to monitor your progress along the way. You will experience a sense of achievement with each step, which keeps you motivated.
5. Get Organized
The fifth step is getting organized. This is an incredibly important part of the process. If you are not organized, you will find it is very easy to slide off track.
There are a number of different steps that you can take to get yourself organized. First, we recommend starting off by organizing your home. After all, a clean home is a clear mind. Set aside 15 to 30 minutes per day to keep your workspace and home organized. Keeping on top of things on a daily basis will help to ensure you don’t end up with a mountain to climb in the future.
Make use of technology. Think about using software tools or mobile applications that are available to help you stay organized. There are so many great apps and platforms available for everything from setting daily reminders and alarms to tracking your progress over time. In addition, electronic trackers are portable, so you can manage your progress wherever you go. Having all of your information in one easy to access location can make it much easier to manage.
Establishing a daily routine is also a good way of staying productive and organized. When you have good habits and you integrate them into an effective routine, you won’t be relying on fleeting motivation as much, which leaves less room for distraction and procrastination.
To be successful, we recommend consistency over perfection. Many of us have an all-or-nothing attitude, and this can be self-sabotaging. We throw the towel in altogether when we do not meet our, at times, unrealistic expectations. When you shift to a realistic mindset and establish consistent patterns, you will be more likely to stay focused and achieve success.
Finally, planning ahead is very important. Life has a lot of unexpected twists and turns along the way. By planning, it can help you to remain organized and you will be better positioned to deal with any unexpected circumstances that may surface.
If you need assistance in establishing a plan for healthy changes in the new year, our clinical team is ready to assist you to move forward. Contact our office to schedule an appointment today! We wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year. #mentalhealth #freshstart