The New Year is a time to reflect, look back at the past year of successes, failures, triumphs, and hardships, and look forward to what is next. For some it is a time of excitement, of new possibilities, and for others unfortunately it is a time of shame. We look back on the goals we set for ourselves in 2020 and are disappointed that we may not have accomplished what we set out to. So the New Year rolls around and we say to ourselves, “this is the year. I’m going to…”, fill in the blank with whatever you want to do to improve about your life.
Whatever it might be for you, these goals unfortunately can come from a place of shame. We beat ourselves up for not going to the gym, maybe looking in the mirror and being disappointed at what we see. We look through our credit card statement at the end of the month. “I spent how much on takeout?”. We think we are going to belittle and badger ourselves into meeting new goals or finally fulfilling the same resolutions we’ve had year after year that never stick.
And that’s in a normal year!
2020 was a year I am sure most of us will never forget. It was more difficult than ever to stay motivated and energized to accomplish much of anything, let alone make big lifestyle changes. And that’s for those of us who were lucky enough to not lose our jobs or get sick with this awful virus. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to find time to pursue any meaningful change when you’re worried about how to pay your bills, or worse.
Stop Beating Yourself Up
What happens when we set a goal (that is important, no doubt), and continue to not do it? We feel guilt. We feel shame. We beat ourselves up. “I really should be out running right now…I’m so behind on my financial goals…I shouldn’t have eaten that piece of cake…I’m so lazy, stupid, worthless,” and so it goes. And the cycle continues and we feel bad about ourselves and we quit.
Until we learn to accept ourselves as human beings that make mistakes, struggle, don’t always have 100% motivation, sometimes are too busy, we will constantly see struggle and obstacles along the way as failures. You can’t beat yourself into submission (I know I can’t). It’ll never stick.
Think about a great coach or mentor you’ve had in your life (operative word here is GREAT). What would they say to you? Would they belittle you? Tell you how lazy you are, you’ll never amount to nothing? Absolutely not! So why would you do it to yourself?
So let’s change it up this year and practice some self-love.
With some practice, you WILL find that compassion for yourself. And soon enough you’ll start to see that forming those new habits, going for that extra run, making a home cooked meal instead of going out to eat, saving for your retirement, or whatever it might be, is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself (and gets a little bit easier).
There’s nothing wrong with self-improvement, but the source of the desire to improve matters. When you make mistakes, stumble, run into a roadblock, and are kind to yourself in the process, you’ll have the ability to say, “That’s okay, let’s figure this out, and try again.” You’ll keep showing up for yourself.
For now, don’t add any new resolutions but this one: Be kind to yourself.
You got this.