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Setting Your Best New Year's Resolutions

In a couple of weeks, we will be saying "goodbye" to the current year and "hello" to the next! The holiday season is not always an easy time of year for many people. There are a lot of big expectations that our fast-paced, consumer-driven culture demands of us this time of year – the perfect presents under the tree; the perfect meal for our families; the perfect sentiment written in our Christmas cards. Then, the New Year kicks in and we're hit, once again, with TV, internet and print media telling us what we absolutely must do to start the new year off right – or perfectly. It's really hard not to get caught up in all of this!

5 Questions to Ask Yourself

As mental health providers at CHI Health, the word "perfect" shows up with our patients frequently. At this time of year, perfectionistic thinking can show up even more. Maybe it's time to consider something a little different. Before you set all those giant New Year's resolutions and goals, consider these five steps:

  1. Take a deep breath and give yourself permission to take a few minutes to review this past year.
  2. What were your successes this past year – things you did that you feel really good about?
  3. What or who are you grateful for?
  4. What are some things that were difficult or challenging that you overcame?
  5. What are three or more positive things you learned about yourself this past year?

Before You Look Forward, Take a Look Back

There is a tendency for many who do this exercise to be really hard on themselves. Sometimes all we see are the disappointments or the things we wish we would have done better. The challenge of this exercise is to move away from the all-or-nothing thinking of perfectionism and give yourself some credit for doing the best you could.

Sure there's room for improvement, but sometimes we need to take a step back and look at what we've done well. Maybe you gave your neighbor a ride to the doctor, volunteered at the hospital, joined the choir at church, or chose to forgive someone who'd hurt you – there are lots of good things you did this past year - and it's okay to give yourself a pat on the back and feel good about yourself!

As you move forward into the new year, the invitation is to take some time to reflect on what went right. Go ahead and set big, fabulous New Year's resolutions. But rather than look at what you did wrong this past year or what didn't go your way, look at what you did right and what good things you made happen. Whether you make New Year's resolutions or not, this simple review can set the tone for the New Year – moving away from perfectionism and looking at the simple fact that you've done a lot of good things in the past and that you're likely to do some more good things in the future.

All the best and Happy Holidays!

Karen Williams, LIMHP
Karen Williams, LIMHP

Karen Williams, LIMHP is a Mental Health provider at CHI Health.

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