Hello dear ones! Happy New Year and welcome to 2019.
I think one of the biggest lessons we need to learn is that balance between effort and ease, striving and allowing, setting goals and allowing whatever happens to be your intended path is necessary, difficult, and fleeting. So as we enter another year, let’s talk about reviewing 2018 and setting intentions for 2019 in a way that feels healthy. We will start piecing this all together.
Often I see people hanging all their hope on a narrow version of success. Think about someone you’ve seen start a diet only to lose all their motivation and hope as soon as one mistake is made. Resilience is something we talk about frequent in therapy as a protective factor (something that reduces our risk for am illness or improves our prognosis) and being able to dust ourselves off after a setback (like having a cookie–or several– in the break room after you swore you wouldn’t) and developing a new plan based on new information without judgement.
I like to look back on the year objectively. Not that there’s no place for sentimentality but we know that depression comes with two ugly filters that can feed negative feelings. 1) we filter out the positive and 2) when we’re sad it’s hard to remember anything but other sad times. So try looking back on maybe the 3 best moments of the year. Or the things you’re most grateful for. But try to find positive things. We have a tendency to easily find the negative, challenge your habits!
To do an objective inventory of your life and goals, I like to go through each area of life, one at a time: relationships, financial health, physical health, mental/emotional health, education, spiritual health, and any other area that seems like it might be important to look at.
So for example, maybe relationships are a place I know I struggle. If I look back objectively, I know that I lost touch with someone from college that was important to me and didn’t talk to them over the Holidays like I normally would. Maybe it’s tied to my emotional health- I’m isolating because of the depression and it’s affected my relationships. Okay, what very objective goal can I have? How will I know I’ve met the goal? Do some research on “SMART goals” if you need more help developing goals that are achievable. Maybe my goal for relationships is to see a friend in person at least once a week. Or maybe it’s to set some boundaries with my mother. There are lots of possibilities here.
There are goals you can make for any category of life. Maybe you’re dissatisfied with your physical health- what are you options? What’s a reasonable goal? Maybe it’s drinking no more than 7 drinks per week. Maybe it’s moving your body in a way that feels good at least 3x a week. Maybe it’s trying one meatless meal per week or seeing a dentist for the first time in a few years, etc. Are these making sense?
The goals I don’t love seeing are things like “Lose weight” or “Feel better”. They don’t have a how much, a when, or a how. We get so excited thinking “this is my year!”. Maybe it is. But can it be “your year” and still look different than you expect it to?
Beautiful things can happen if you allow them to be as they are rather than forcing them to be how you want them to. Strive to balance the “this is my exact goal and I will definitely accomplish it” with “this is my intention and I have the tools to work towards it but I’ll stay open to all possibility and not hang my self-worth on whether or not my plan works”. Give it a shot. This is a tough thing to do! We want to be in control so giving that up is hard but so rewarding! Balance the effort with the ease and set yourself up for success both by gathering tools and staying open and curious about the way you progress. Good luck and have a fantastic year!!
Kayla Valley is a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW) who works at the Highland location of Perspectives Therapy Services. She became a therapist to help people struggle with the depression and anxiety that she understands intimately. She loves being a Michigander and is an avid sewist who loves spending time with her cats and sugar gliders.
Perspectives Therapy Services is a multi-site mental and relationship health practice with clinic locations in Brighton, Lansing, Highland and Fenton, Michigan. Our clinical teams include experienced, compassionate and creative therapists with backgrounds in psychology, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and social work. Additionally, we offer psychiatric care in the form of evaluations and medication management. Our practice prides itself on providing extraordinary care. We offer a customized matching process to prospective clients whereby an intake specialist carefully assesses which of our providers would be the very best fit for the incoming client. We treat a wide range of concerns that impact a person's mental health including depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, low self-worth, life transitions, and childhood and adolescent difficulties.