• Kim Smith, M.Ed, LPC

New Year, New Mindset

The end of a year and start of a new decade. Naturally that brings about thoughts of growth. Where am I in my life now? Where do I want to be in the near future? What typically happens is that people set up a list of resolutions or goals for the new year, and maybe they are highly motivated to reach those goals for a month or two, and then things just seem to fizzle out. You see memes about it all the time. Still the question arises, why is it so hard for us to stick to those goals?

I will admit that I am equally guilty of this every year. I have been saying “Ima lose 15-20 pounds” for about 3 years now. And I lose 2-3 after a few weeks and then something gets in the way.

“Oh, that was just a busy day at work, I needed sleep more than I needed to work out.”

“It’s the weekend it doesn’t count”

“Aunt Flo’s in town and my body hates me, so I’m just gonna relax”

“It’s my birthday so I deserve to celebrate!!” …My birthday is legit in like 10 days, so this hits home a lot more lol

If you really look for it, you can very easily find an excuse not to meet those goals or resolutions. While the plans you have for yourself in the moment may be very true and valid, if not putting in as much working into changing your mindset as you are in coming up with these goals, no true progress is going to be made. To change that mindset means going deeper than the surface level goals and thinking of it as consistent life changes.

As we enter 2020, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the hills and valleys of 2019. In doing so, also reflecting on the lessons learned. No matter what darkness you have gone through there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. It may be the faintest light, but it’s still there. One of my core therapeutic approaches in my practice is positive psychology. Positive psychology focuses on a character strengths and behaviors that allow them to build a life of meaning and purpose—to move beyond surviving to flourishing. The goal of such being to help people become happier and more fulfilled. (This is not my words; it was paraphrased from a more formal explanation and more in depth research). One of the core tenants of Positive Psych is gratitude, finding something to be thankful for even in the painful life experiences. I’m aware that I’m going on somewhat of a therapy nerd rant but hang tight I’m bringing it back around.

The first step that I have taken in changing my personal mindset is focusing on the lessons learned from the people who have left my life in one way or another this past year. I hate to see them gone, but I am grateful for what they taught me about how they live or lived their lives. My Aunt taught me the value of travel and living your life to the fullest whenever you can. My dad taught me the importance of having a servant heart and the satisfaction of uplifting both yourself and others when you find a way to serve the community you are a part of. My ex taught me what it was to truly be in love with somebody, to for probably for the first time ever, for me at least, genuinely envision what having a life partner could look like. I am grateful for the time I had with all of these people because I wouldn’t have had those lessons otherwise.

Another core tenant of Positive Psych is resilience. Which essentially refers to the mindset of no matter what I’ve been through I can and will get to a better place, so long as I truly believe it and take active steps to do so. In transitioning to this New Mindset, the key is being grateful for what you’ve been through and where you are presently. Once you do that then can than make clear action steps to continue on that journey at your own pace. Don’t make the goal of working out 5 days a week if you know that you struggle to just get a solid 8 hours of sleep 3 days a week. Don’t try and cut certain food or drinks out of your diet “cold turkey”, maybe start with on less consumption of that food or drink a day. Part of the reason why goals fizzle out is that people jump to the extreme in trying to achieve certain goals really quickly. But true growth is a slow and steady process.

That being said, I didn’t make new resolutions/ goals this year. Instead I made a list of positive affirmations to keep me motivated on my own journey with growth and self care. Here are a few:

1. I will prioritize time with family and friends, because they uplift me

2. I will take time to care for myself in whatever way I need to, whenever I need to, without any shame

3. My happiness comes first

These are definitely goals for myself in some way, but they don’t have the pressure of a timeline, and they tap into my core needs and feelings, and that is the first step to a new and improved mindset.

Questions? Comments? Concerns?

Share at least one positive affirmation you can implement for yourself in the comment section below. I don’t expect perfection, but we’re on this journey together so why not open up the dialogue

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