Rachael Seldin, LCSW, ADV CASAC
Avoiding the “New Year, New Me” Cliché
Updated: Mar 8, 2022
Are you feeling Déjà vu as the year 2022 approaches? The same old resolutions rear their ugly head. Losing weight. Bulking up. Finding love. Quitting smoking. Starting a new career. Leaving a toxic one. Now you have your resolution and it starts January 1st.
Oh wait that’s the weekend… Let’s start Monday.
Monday comes around and you start working towards your goal. The next day comes and so forth. Then you miss a day because of some excuse. And next thing you know its February and you’re back where you started. Same patterns, New Year… I think Einstein would agree that’s the equivalent of insanity.
New Year resolutions are well intentioned however they tend to be short lived. The most challenging aspect of a goal seems to be overcoming self-defeating behaviors. In order to break these vicious cycles, we should reflect on what’s working and not in the here and now.
Can you recognize your own growth?
What do you consider progress? Have you taken the time to appreciate the changes you’ve made? How often are you doing so?
More often than not, the greatest obstacle in reaching an overall goal is overcoming the “all or nothing” mentality. Let’s say your goal is to pay off your debt. At first glance, this goal is daunting. You haven’t made a dent. Seeing yourself at the finish line debt free feels as if it’s become more and more unattainable.
Let’s PAUSE and try to brainstorm how you’ve made efforts towards reaching your goal:
Are you in school? Are you working towards increasing your earning potential?
Have you enrolled in a new training?
Have you taken a look at your spending habits?
Have you set aside a percentage a paycheck to be reallocated towards your loan?
Have you applied for a new job?
Have you professionalized your wardrobe?
By asking yourself these questions you are breaking down your goal of “paying off debt” into smaller more achievable steps. First, think about what your overall goal may be. Then, practice breaking down the goal as shown above. If you can answer YES to any of the smaller goals, take some time to appreciate and reflect on how you got to that yes. If your answer was NO to all or most of the smaller steps perhaps, we need to reassess what the other parts of your thought processes or environment look like.
Can you break down your goal even further?
The more you can break down your goal the less intimidating the path will be. The path doesn’t need to be from Point A “Not accomplished” to Point B “Accomplished”. I urge you to consider taking the path of the underlying steps in your journey. Let’s break down the above example:
Point A-> Take a look at the financials
Point B-> Distinguish between necessary expenses vs. frivolous expenses
Point C-> Decide how much money can be put aside per day, week, month etc.
Point D-> Create a better tracking system of money coming in and out
Point E-> Call a loan advisor to see what new repayment options they have to offer or how to reconsolidate your loan.
Point F-> Strategize ways to renegotiate your salary
Point G-> Make an appointment with your employer to discuss your salary
Do you have realistic expectations of when each goal should be achieved?
Is your timeline creating too much pressure? Perhaps it’s time to throw it away. A good rule of thumb is to allocate one to two weeks for your first goal. Once that time frame is up its time to reflect and assess on whether that time frame was realistic.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Was I able to accomplish “Point A” in the expected time frame?
What other tasks/obligations was I responsible for during this time?
How much time did I dedicate towards that task?
The idea of “all or nothing” is a cognitive distortion, similar to catastrophizing or overgeneralization. Life is full of ebbs and flows. Sometimes there may be minimal stressors and sometimes we will be pushed to our limits. By recognizing that, in order to appreciate the good days that we need to have the bad ones, perhaps we can also learn to appreciate our accomplishments sometimes we need to have drawbacks.
Although “New Year, New Me” has a good sentiment, we often overlook the pressure we place on ourselves to achieve our goals in shorter time frames than the “year”. Much growth can be achieved in a year however it’s how we define “growth” that keeps us going. As you make your resolution, consider breaking down your goal into smaller incremental steps. Acknowledge the journey you’ve taken and reflect regularly.
I guarantee you that you are progressing even if it just starts with taking the time to read this blog. Cherish the journey, slow down and keep in mind that we are ever evolving.
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