Updated: Apr 21
The new year is a great time to look back and reflect on the events in our lives. The ongoing COVID pandemic has dominated the headlines and practically every aspect of our lives. While the pandemic has become a major factor in all our lives, it does not have to be the focus of our lives, conversation, and interactions. There is so much more to focus on and appreciate.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Every year we all do the same thing. We resolve to do better. We are going to eat right and go to the gym. We are going to attend religious services and do better to keep in touch with family and friends. While these are all admirable goals, they can wind up putting causing pressure to follow through and when we don’t live up to our own expectations, we give up in a matter of days or weeks. The concept of the new year resolution is just another way that we set ourselves up to fail at our long-term goals. Take it one step at a time
When it comes to self-improvement, whether it is to a desire to eat better, get into shape, or get the help we need to deal with the issues in our lives, realize that these things take time, dedication, and patience. You aren’t going to go to the gym, bench press your body weight and run the equivalent of a 5K on the treadmill in the first week. You have to start slow and give your body time to gain strength. You might not be able to do more than a few minutes of walking on a treadmill the first time to go to the gym, but that doesn’t mean you should give up or that you failed to achieve your 5K goal. You have not failed; you are on the road to success. Same with mental health; having to exercise new muscles, develop new brain neuropathways.
The last two years have been hard for everyone. You may feel that the stress and anxiety you are feeling is unique to you. If you have lost a friend or a loved one to the pandemic, you may think the grief you feel is so overpowering that there is no way anyone else can understand what you are going through, or you may feel that there is no escape or recovery from the feelings associated with the trauma of losing a loved one.
As with achieving the goal of running a 5K, working through trauma is not something that can be achieved in one day. It is a journey of recovery that requires you to take the first step. After that, you can take a second step and a third. Your goals are well within reach when you understand that goals are just as much about the journey as it is about the destination.
In this new year don’t pressure yourself with a resolution that can only lead to frustration. Write down your goals, but don’t focus on the finish line. Figure out the first step. Just taking that first step is already a victory you can put into your win column. After all you can only take one step: one affirmation, one minute of meditation, one minute of journaling, one kind gesture to yourself, one minute of sitting in bathtub, or one minute of blowing bubbles.
After the first step is done, take another step, then another. When it comes to a trauma that you have experienced, or continue to live through, the first step is to make the decision that you are going to seek out the proper therapy that addresses it. There is significance in having the new year start in the middle of winter. As we take the first steps in to 2022, we know that within a matter of mere weeks, the snow and cold will transform into spring and new life and all we have to do to get there is take it one minute, one hour, one day at a time and one step at a time. Before you know it, you will be well into the journey. As Dr Seuss says, “you’re off to great places”!