New Year, New Me?

Have you ever looked at the word “New”? Doesn’t it look weird when you look at it for awhile? Just me?

Today is the last day of 2018. I accomplished a lot this year. Stopped working out, started working out again. Graduated Young Adult DBT group, graduated Advanced DBT group, started gender therapy, and soon to be ending my DBT therapy. I started Event Captain training, and have captained several events this year. I gained more jobs this year. I took care of my teeth (got 4 cavities filled, my permanent retainer broke off, began flossing daily-ish). I got an annual wellness check-up (supposed to be annual not every 5 years..). I tried more haircuts. I tried more foods. I saw P!nk in concert, it was beautiful. I came out as non-binary, began using they/them pronouns, and going by T in some circles. I grew closer to some people, and further away from others. I started drawing again and working on making that a more consistent thing that I do. I read more books. I advocated more for myself, and still have a lot more to do in that department. I expanded my social circle. And more that I cannot think of in this moment.. because eventually this paragraph has to end.

Usually this time of year, people come up with resolutions for the new year. There’s always those cookie-cutter options like losing weight, dieting, exercising, being a better person. Well, I find those rarely work for me. I find that just because it is a new year doesn’t motivate me enough to actually change. Instead, I need real motivation. A real why. And maybe this will help you too.

I made a list of who I want to be as a person. Defining what being a better person really means to me. Here’s a few of what I put down: Successful, Healthy, Balanced, Intelligent, Generous, Financially-stable, etc. Those are my values. Those are what I want to embody as a person. Sure those are all great things to figure out and write down, but how do you be those things? Well, next you have to define what those mean to you. How are you going to achieve these values? Healthy is living in a clean space, exercising, eating healthy. Intelligent is learning, reading, figuring out puzzles. Balanced includes getting my work/play hours balanced and doing mindful acts like yoga and meditations. Defining these can be hard but a crucial step.

Now you need to lay out how you can get there. What do you need to know or do to accomplish these things. One of my definitions of success to go to grad school. In order to do that, I need to study and take the GRE. I need to get my letters of recommendation. I need to reassess the programs I was looking into before, and figure out what the qualifications are, and work towards the ones I lack. And from these, I create daily, weekly, and monthly tasks.

All of these tasks are motivated by the values. If I want to be healthier, I’ve gotta complete the tasks that will make that happen. If you feel unmotivated one day and don’t want to complete a task, then you need to decide if your value can outweigh the lack of motivation. Like yesterday, I didn’t complete my Duolingo exercise, which is a part of learning, and thus a part of my value of Intelligence. It’s not that I didn’t value intelligence that day, I just didn’t complete it. Sure, it would only take a few minutes, however, I was having a rough mental day yesterday and it didn’t seem as important as doing other things like laundry and putting away all of the things I brought home from Christmas. It was fine that I skipped that task that day. I can try again today (still haven’t done it yet, but plan to when I get home!)

And while it doesn’t make sure I complete each task when I say that I should, it does give a lasting permanence to the task. Unlike some resolutions where I (and perhaps you too) end up not completing it one day and then it just falls to the wayside completely, only to comeback next year as a resolution. This way, it is more of a constant striving. The motivation behind all of these tasks don’t change or go away. I will always want to be more successful, healthier, etc. The motivation isn’t the new year, new me. It’s the very idea of a better person, an achievable greatness that I can strive for.

I hope this helps you in your upcoming resolutions, or a motivation to be better and define your better.

I had much help and inspiration in this task given by these two articles written by the venerable Heather Hogan: Setting Goals And Realistic Expectations, and Focus, Boundaries and Single-Tasking.

Check them out for a more specific guideline to achieve this for yourself. I hope for you to continue to strive to be a better you, and for a happier 2019.

Best wishes,

FDB

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