The New Year can be an ideal time to check-in and take inventory on how we’ve been living our lives thus far and if our actions have been aligned with how we want to live our lives going forward. Due to the pandemic and the numerous stressors that we’ve had to navigate through, it’s likely that many of us were not able to fulfill our goals for 2021 in the ways that we had hoped. If you’re feeling disappointed in your progress with your 2021 goals or simply wondering where the year went, know that you are not alone!
As many of us are still trying to process and catch up with the changes that have occurred within the last two years, we can still be intentional in making 2022 a fulfilling, meaningful year. I have shared some tips below that may be helpful as we welcome the New Year.
1. 2021 Check-In: Dedicate some time prior to the New Year to check in about how this last year was for you. Consider reflective questions to inform you of your experiences, such as: What were your lessons learned? What do you definitely want to take into 2022? What are you planning to leave behind? Consider how you spent your time and energy in 2021. Were your efforts and energy dedicated to areas that were most important to you? Do you wish that you had focused more on other areas? If so, what other areas?In moments of stress, it may feel like we are regularly reacting to our current circumstances, rather than intentionally responding based on what is in our best interest. However, simply reflecting on the last year and identifying what worked/didn’t work for us can help us in being more clear on what we behaviorally need to do more/less of in the coming year in order to most benefit us going forward.
2. Practice Self-Compassion. If you’re finding that you’re regularly being hard on yourself or upset that maybe your last year was not at all how you had wanted it to be, consider practicing some self-compassion. Consider reminding yourself that the last two years have been filled with a significant amount of uncertainty and so much that has been outside of our control. What I mean by practicing self-compassion is simply treating yourself like you would a loved one in a similar situation. Oftentimes, we respond incredibly more critically to ourselves than we would ever respond to anyone else (especially people that we care about). So, if you’re finding that your inner critic is coming through strongly, PAUSE, and consider asking yourself, “What would I say to my friend if they were in a similar situation? What would my tone be like? What would I encourage them to do in this moment.” And consider offering yourself that support at that moment. You deserve it.
3. Identify your Values. So hopefully by this point you’ve given yourself the love and support you deserve and have taken an accurate and helpful inventory of this last year.
As we start to look forward to 2022, it can be beneficial to spend some time reflecting on your values- the things that give your life the greatest sense of meaning and fulfillment. What are the areas that you absolutely want to focus more on in this next year and going forward? For instance, is it your family, self-care, health, and/or career? There is no right or wrong response- our values are unique to us, so identify what areas are most important to you and that you want to make this next year and your LIFE about! To be more intentional with our actions, it’s important to be clear on where we want to go and how we want to live our lives.
4. Regular, Intentional Check-Ins throughout 2022: Dedicate time on a regular basis (whatever feels feasible for you) to check in throughout 2022 to determine if you’re living your life based on your values. This practice can be as formal or informal as you’d like. Maybe it’s just spending a few minutes each month to check-in? Or dedicating an hour each month to check-in and engage in other self-care activities that are fulfilling to you? Make this your time for YOU and consider engaging in a regular practice filled with activities that are going to be most enjoyable to you (e.g., journaling, setting a relaxing ambiance, gratitude list).
5. Welcome 2022, fully. Setting your intentions for how you want to experience 2022 can go a long way and yet we want to remember that things may not always go as we plan. If unexpected changes or stressors occur in 2022 (which we should likely be ready for), remember that even in those moments, you can continue to focus on what is within your control and what will make your experience most meaningful.
Overall, take the time this year to give yourself some support, love, and engage in activities that are going to be most rejuvenating to you on an emotional and physical level. I’m wishing you all a wonderful New Year!
Disclaimer: The information shared is for educational purposes and is not therapy or direct advice.
Dr. Sheva Assar, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist