The new year symbolizes a fresh start and a new perspective. If you merely Google the title to this blog, 3,130,000,000 results fly in with different perspectives of what you should squeeze in before the year ends. Buzzfeed tells you to buy a random Amazon gadget 'to make your life easier' in the new year. Random blog authors are pleading that you set new intentions and ground yourself in the next 3 days. Friends, family, loved ones are talking about new year resolutions. You may be pressuring yourself to make a life change in this time, or shortly after the new year starts. This is completely unneeded.
The One Thing You Need to Do Before 2022?
Nothing. Yup, you heard that right - nothing. There is not one thing that you need to be striving to complete before this year ends. As a therapist, I come across many who set certain goals to be completed by the end of the year. I hear phrases such as 'I want to shave off those last 5 pounds' or 'I want to cut off my toxic relationship.' While these goals are definitely something to aspire for, I feel like the added pressure to complete by such an ambiguous deadline is not effective.
There is a cognitive distortion that is along the lines of 'shoulding yourself.' This concept is a distortion because telling yourself that you 'should' do something creates incredible guilt, shame, and anxiety. If you really think about it, has shaming yourself into completing goals ever really worked? Ask yourself another question, are you trying to complete this goal because you want to or because you feel you 'should?'
How To Really Set New Year's Goals
Now while I still believe that setting certain parameters for goals is healthy, I really don't think the added guilt is helpful in ultimately completing your goal. Instead, following the guidelines of a SMART goal with added compassion can help you achieve what you want:
Specific - what exactly do you want to accomplish?
Measured - how will you know you've accomplished this goal?
Achievable - is this a goal you can realistically attain? Can you break it down into smaller pieces?
Relevant - your goals should be aligned with your lifestyle and values.
Time-based - set an attainable end date that you'd like to complete this goal by.
And if the goal isn't met when all is said and done? I'm adding:
Compassion - in order to be ultimately successful, self-compassion is crucial if your goal isn't met. You won't want to continue the work if you're constantly beating yourself up about it.
Adjustment - reflect on what went right and what did not about the last attempt. Adjust accordingly.
Not only should our goals be SMART, but we also need to be cognizant about how we treat ourselves if a certain goal is not met the first time. Establishing self-compassion after a goal doesn't pull through is a crucial step in getting back up to readjust and continue the work. Also, do you know the thing about goals? They're supposed to be flexible! Readjust your strategy if you don't meet your goal the first time around.
Instead of putting yourself down because you were not able to achieve a certain goal by the end of this year, adjust them. The purpose of goal setting is to shift and bend the parameters of what you want to achieve so that you can actually attain what you need. Don't forget, we are also still in a whole pandemic that doesn't seem to be letting up. If that is not a reason to be adaptable with your goals, then I don't have much else to convince you.