New year, improved you

By Ashourina Slewo

The new year is finally here and many people are digging within to find the motivation to become the best versions of themselves in the upcoming year. While social media feeds are inundated with sentiments that the new year will bring forth a different person, a different person is hardly necessary.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel. In fact, it is much easier and a lot more effective to make goals and resolutions that focus on improvement and not reinvention. Work with what you already have!

Planning ahead is vital. You can’t just expect to wake up on the first day of the new year ready to dive into your resolutions without a having a plan.

“Neglecting to create a specific plan or vision is a common mistake people make,” explained Catholic therapist and life coach, Iklas Bashi. “Writing goals down clarifies our vision. I love using vision boards and journaling. Breaking goals down into measurable steps with dates helps keep us on track. This also helps us by clarifying the "why" behind our intentions. Being intentional is so important.”

When approaching or planning for your New Year’s resolutions, it is also important to be realistic. Setting expectations and holding yourself accountable is important, but to hold yourself to unrealistic goals or expectations will only hinder your growth.

“The best way to approach New Year’s resolutions is realistically,” said Stephanie Nofar, licensed professional counselor and certified advanced alcohol and drug counselor. “Approach with realistic expectations. Make sure you are truly ready to make a specific resolution and be truly determined to stick with it. The word resolution means, ‘a firm decision to do or not to something’ so make sure you are ready!”

According to Bashi, taking your values into account when approaching a New Year’s resolution is also as necessary as being realistic.

“Often our values are not aligned with our behaviors,” she explained. “We say we value certain things in life like our relationship with God, our health, our family, etc. but when we look at how much time we give to those things in real life, there may be a discrepancy. The goal is to align our values with our behaviors. Develop an awareness of what your best self looks like and move in that direction.”

Often times, the biggest struggle tends to be getting started in the first place. However, once you have started taking steps towards your New Year’s resolution, staying on track becomes the real struggle. No one is perfect and obstacles will present themselves.

“Thinking about this from the beginning will prevent failure,” said Bashi. “Anticipate obstacles! Write down what is likely to get in the way and how will you handle it? When a setback arises, what will you do? Sometimes we are our own worst critic and we need to cultivate mercy in our lives by acknowledging we stumbled with a goal but then picking up ourselves and begin again.

Pray for the virtue of perseverance! Share you goals with family and/or friends because this will help you stay accountable!”

Setbacks should not prevent you from continuing to working towards your betterment. “Understand that you are human. You may fall, but get back up and keep moving forward,” Nofar said.

Moreover, you don’t have to wait a whole year to start making resolutions to become a better you. Each day is an opportunity to revaluate and change for the better.

“Be your best self with or without a formal resolution,” explained Nofar. “Don’t ever give up on being a better YOU, no matter what day of the year.”