New Year, Same You: Why It’s a Great Thing
By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
So you’re all set with your New Year’s Resolutions. You plan to start over, begin anew and throw the “old” you out the window. Sounds familiar, right? Hold that thought just a minute, I want you to hit the pause button on that thought and read this first.
New beginnings, new identity and all that is great, but my question is why are we fighting so hard to start something new when we have the greatest thing right in front of us… ourselves!
That’s right, you, just as you are. You’re perfect, so why try to change?
This year, instead of working on changing things and starting anew I want to urge you to focus on being more compassionate, kind, caring and positively constructive with yourself as you are before you focus on the change (and when you do look for change, do so lovingly). Change is good and we’re all a work in progress, but acceptance is really the main ingredient for satisfaction, love and happiness before we work on the change.
With that in mind, here’s 5 things that can happen when you work toward accepting yourself as you are instead of trying to promote change this coming year:
- You may become more self-aware.
Self-awareness is something that all of us strive for. Our bodies and minds are the most powerful things we have, we just have to pay attention to what they’re telling us, and sometimes acceptance of ourselves and compassion for who we are can help us tune in better.
- You may become kinder to yourself (which can ultimately result in better health). This is a fantastic quality to grow. Speaking from experience, being the hardest critic on yourself doesn’t always lend itself positively to promoting self-love and happiness. Instead, learning how to be accepting of the things you may (or may not) be able to change about yourself can really help to promote a healthy kindness when it comes to how you think about and talk to yourself. Try starting sentences of conversation with yourself (particularly when you feel like they’re negative) beginning in “I love that I can…write well, move well, etc.” It goes along way.
- You learn to slow down more.
So, we’re really good at moving through things quickly, jumping to the next goal and plan. While this can be wonderful when it comes to efficiency, it doesn’t always mean happiness and satisfaction. When you begin to accept yourself more, it can sometimes lend itself to slowing down a bit; slowing down through activities that you may have otherwise raced through. For example, like that un-busy Saturday night that you were uncomfortable spending alone, now you’re more likely to be happy hanging out with just yourself.
- You may reach your goals faster.
Wait, really? Yes, I said it! I find that more compassionate, kinder people (to themselves) often reach their goals faster and in a less-frustrated way than those of us who are constantly trying to change ourselves.
- You may be happier.
Who doesn’t want to be happier, right? Happiness often comes from acceptance more than it does from change, so try to find a few things that you’re really grateful for being good at (compassionate, a great speaker, a wonderful organizer, etc.) and write them down, keep them in mind.
So you’ve read what might happen if you’re a little more accepting of yourself, now here’s a few gentle ways to do just that.
- Set your goals/things to work on in a realistic way; try to exclude all or nothing goals
- When setting the intention for each goal, start with “I love ____ about myself” before thinking what about it is you want to change
- Be prepared to change your path along the way as things surely won’t go as planned (they never do!); being flexible, patient and kind to yourself along the way is certainly a key part of this journey
- Praise yourself when you either achieve or start work on that small thing you were hoping to work on or towards
- If you don’t achieve what you’re hoping to, be kind to yourself and let it go, you can always start again tomorrow
- Finally, choose small things to work on all year, and in-fact, try to find mostly other times of the year to start working on different things because waiting until January puts an unnecessary amount of stress of yourself- and who needs more stress at this time of year?
Here’s more on setting goals and intentions:
5 Resolutions You Shouldn’t Make
5 Easy Resolutions You Can Stick To
13 Tips to Stick to Your Resolutions