The year 2021 is being heralded as a fresh start after the chaos and interesting times that 2020 brought us all. This year, more than ever, we are all ready to embrace the fresh, new year with hope of what could be.
The end of each year gives a natural pause for reflection and is a time where society encourages us to set goals for the upcoming trip around the sun. There are three important concepts to consider when setting new year’s resolutions: practicing gratitude, self-compassion, and positive thinking, plus following a proven paradigm for setting realistic goals for ourselves. In this discussion, we will review these beneficial mindset basics, with an introduction on how to use the SMART Goal method to set achievable goals for the new year.
The year 2020 will undoubtedly be referred to with wide eyes, snarky memes, sadness, and shock for the rest of our lifetime. It is time to welcome 2021 with open arms and a positive mindset. Gratitude is a research proven way to shift perspective and promote constructive thinking, which in turn has immeasurable positive effects on our wellbeing. Before setting new goals, it is helpful to take a moment to reflect on what good things happened in 2020, both for society and for ourselves as individuals.
This can take the form of writing a gratitude list, speaking aloud about good things that have happened to others, or consciously catching negative thoughts and countering them with opposing positive thoughts. Practicing gratitude and positive thinking sets the right tone for moving forward with goal setting.
Before we start the resolution making process, remember to observe self-compassion during the practice. Setting future expectations is not the same as opening a door to chastise ourselves. In the spirit of forward motion, leave perceived mistakes or self-disappointments on the table. This doesn’t mean we do not learn from our past mistakes or lessons gleaned from incomplete resolutions; it rather means setting aside unhelpful self-criticisms in favor of positive forward growth.
We are often kinder to others than we are to ourselves. We should all practice talking to ourselves as we would a friend. It is also okay to fail at a resolution and be able to start it up again. Nearly all progress in life is preceded by some measure of failure. Self-compassion is paramount to personal growth.
We should congratulate ourselves on the small things we do to become better people. Simply reading this article is a positive evolvement. As odd as it may seem at first, we should celebrate every success no matter how small, as a means of self-compassion. This could be as simple as saying out loud, right now, “I’m thinking about how to be better in this moment. I am so awesome!”
Now that gratitude, positive thinking, and self-compassion are all in play, we come to the tradition of setting new year resolutions. Remember, it is commendable to have good intentions, but any vague, non-specific resolution, without a plan, can lead to frustration and a cycle of self-doubt. A template called SMART Goals can help to simplify and create achievable goals that are in line with core values. When we accomplish small goals in a real way, our progress will snowball, and growth and alignment in 2021 will shine.
There is a big difference between identifying core values, which is a worthwhile and a powerful endeavor, and the act of creating a goal. Areas of core values include spiritual, fitness, educational, family, relationships, social, career, and financial. Once we have identified which area to work with, we can identify the broad strokes of the value, which can sound like, “I want to be a better person to my family in the new year,” or “I want to lose weight so that I can feel better about myself.” Remember that these types of assertions are not goals, but vision statements. For resolutions with staying power, consider using the SMART Goal paradigm.
This week, I have asked you to set a healthy, growth-minded mentality to begin the process of setting achievable goals for the new year: Reflect on good things that happened in 2020. Be kind to yourself during the resolution setting and implementation process. Celebrate the successes of the past year. And, celebrate the small things we are doing now to become better people.
In next week’s article (1/14/21), I will lay out a step-by-step guide showing how to form a value statement into a specific, achievable goal, using the SMART goals template. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based. Examples will be given so you can tailor your own visions into actions you can start using today.
When we make intentional choices to grow in positive ways, we create a dynamic, worthwhile life worth living. Here’s to a growth-filled new year, with friends and neighbors.