New Years Resolution Time
A friend recently asked me what my New Year's goals were. I replied that I didn't much like the act of writing down goals, and I considered my own thoughts of how they can often be setting you up for disappointment. She responded that she enjoyed the practice of writing things down and keeping track of her progress.
She raises a valid point. It's not that I haven't given this idea any thought, it's that it has been ever-evolving. I don't like setting myself up for failure, nor do I like to do so with clients. This being said, there is enormous power in mindfully dedicating your time for your life pursuits. If I want something in my own life to take place that is new, challenging, and out of the usual routine, it must be written down, given the time to grow and bloom, and it must be regularly revisited for attention of nourishment. This thought was further emphasized as I sat down to write this blog post.
Just a few minutes into writing, I overheard my husband pick up his phone in the neighboring room. I could tell from the way he answered it that it was not from someone he knew, and he soon began apologizing for having forgotten a commitment. He came in to talk to me briefly and explained we had missed an appointment with a school that we set only at the end of last week. Facepalm!
My mind immediately jumps to problem solving to try to undo the mistake. Really, this was an honest mistake, school closure/delayed start, and one that was ultimately born of not writing it down. It wasn't even on our radar! Without a reminder, I couldn't engage with the commitment and reinforce our goal with action.
So first, write it down. Those behaviors that help reinforce the goals are though and action-based: reflecting on the commitment, taking action to prepare for it, and executing the plan. The simple, mindful act of writing it down (and setting a reminder on my phone, in my case) is powerful and lends to our accountability.
We are in the process of considering language immersion programs for my almost-5 year old (this is the bigger picture goal). With a slew of events and ultimately, the fact that an appointment we set with one of the schools was not written down, we missed an appointment with one of the schools (action step). There will be multiple appointments/open-houses to attend in the near future. Our success at meeting our own goals regarding determining information about these schools based on visiting interest meetings is going to be determined by careful planning, preparation, and execution of a schedule.
As I have fleshed out the new-year's-goal thinking I've carried on from previous times, I realize some of it is helpful and a bit of it is not-so-much. There is power in writing down and committing to something of value. I am easily able to give myself excuses for why I haven't done something, but with a written commitment it is that much more likely to be seen through, and when I have a regular check-in about it, it is even more likely to be accomplished.
The New Year came and went without a formal act of writing down the pieces in my heart that I want to realize this year so I am going to mindfully consider, write down, reflect on, and revisit these answers to these questions, and I invite you to do the same. Because resolution is really just the resolve to focus on activities that will bring you fulfillment and joy- furthering that goal of living your best life. Take a nice cool, clean breath, close your eyes for a moment and consider these questions:
I am also resolved to revisit these goals myself. If you feel you could benefit from a regular check-in on your personal goals, schedule an appointment. Let's see how we can help you move towards more full-hearted, purposeful living.
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Heather Astill, MSW, LSCSW, LCSW-C