Happy New Year! 2020 is finally upon us, and right on schedule is the expectation that everyone — EVERYONE — is setting big, grand goals for the year. So what about you? Any New Year’s resolutions? Or perhaps you’re a bit sick of reading/hearing that question, for one reason or another. Personally, New Year’s resolutions tend to lose their luster for me when I’m looking back at a year that’s been outside of my control. Does that resonate with you?
If the last year has brought some difficult circumstances, you might not be where you’d have hoped by now. When people look back and say, “What did you accomplish this year?” maybe your first thought is, ‘I survived.’ I know I’ve felt that way, and known many others who have as well.
When we’re not where we want to be, especially when we’ve made it through trauma or stress, setting goals can feel, at best, pointless — and at worst, an exercise in outright agony.
I believe there are two healthy ways to respond when we feel this way.
The first is this: ignore those cultural calls for goal-setting. The New Year does not have the corner on the ‘goal-setting market.’ You can choose to reinvent yourself or dream big any day of the year — whether it’s January 1st, February 27th, or mid-August. The day that goal-setting works for you is the day it gives you joy. After all, it’s for your benefit — who are you doing it for, if not yourself? So, if it doesn’t serve you, let it go until it does.
The second is quite the opposite: Claim this time for new goals, regardless of where you are in life. You CAN feel proud of yourself for surviving this year — pat yourself on the back, and decide what goals you have for the next. Even if it’s as simple as adding ‘joy’ on top of ‘survive,’ that can be a very worthy goal. Maybe there’s a goal you had to give up — so what new goal can you embrace? For many people, setting New Year’s resolutions is an energizing experience. If that’s you, don’t let your past year rob you of that joy. Look the future in the face and claim those goals anyway, no matter how humble or daring they may be — they’re yours, and claiming them is the first step in the journey.
Whichever feels best to you — grabbing new goals by the horns, or giving yourself a season of rest without any new goals at all — that’s the one I encourage you to embrace. Both are equally healthy, valid, and beneficial for your emotional health. If you felt your heart leap at the thought of one, don’t judge yourself, don’t hesitate — embrace it.
The year is yours to take.