It's that time of year again when everyone affirms their new ways of living. These goals are intended to provide a "better you" and contribute to an exceptional renewed life.
Then why do we find the majority of people excel at the goals put into place, only to find these new found behaviors coming to a screeching halt by March?
Happy New Year! New Year, New You, right? I always wonder why we seem to have the same conversation with people every year, when nothing seems to ever really change. Are the goals put into place really what is important to us as individuals? Or are these resolutions what society and our culture indicating what we should want to make changes to. "I want to spend more time at the gym", "I want to lose 20lbs", "I am going to spend less time on social media", "I'm going to find more balance in my life." These all sound like great changes to make, right? Not if these are not our intended values! Going to the gym and forcing yourself to work out when you hate it, is not the most effective way to increase your endorphin production. Losing weight is not going to make you forget about how unhappy and alone you feel around others, or how anxious you feel when your life doesn't go the way you have planned. Limiting your time on social media can be an extraordinarily helpful goal, if you understand why you choose to post pictures and feed of how wonderful your life is, and at the same time, feel miserable and isolated when you read the posts of others. Creating more balance in your life can be life-altering, if you explore what you are avoiding when you work 60 hours per week and have difficulty staying mindful at any given moment.
We can all benefit from taking advice from Brene Brown- "Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path."
Find what works for you and why it works for you. Open yourself up to explore what your values are, not the values of this society. Allow yourself to look deeper and find your own personal vulnerability. Set goals for yourself to start your journey to find clarity, meaning and purpose. Make this New Year your year of authenticity-not another year of failed resolutions set up by a society that is afraid to be vulnerable and genuine.
So, where do you start? This is a much more pure and complex process than telling a group of people at a party that you are going to "eat clean" this year. Start by making a list of what you truly value. I often engage my clients in a value clarification activity to identify a path of direction. Find a therapist who can assist with exploring your own personal goals and define your own meaning of what an authentic life looks like to you.
Dawn Leprich-Graves, LCPC is a Licensed Clinical Therapist and the Owner of Clarity Counseling and Wellness (CCW), with locations in Chicago-Lakeview and Oak Brook.