It’s the most wonderful time of the year…part two. Now, with retrospectives in the past year, accomplishments and failures. And, of course, goal-setting for the next year. Because, of course, a new year brings a new me, ain’t it? A new and better version of one’s self, a version which is, in the first place, balanced.
And this is where everything starts to go down, the moment that we tend to see reaching a mental state of balance in the same way we see obtaining some material thing: a clear path to follow, with a finish line to be reached and the object in our possession A one time thing. This is how another not-so-great year begins. By living trapped with a wrong mindset.
If you scroll around Social Media in this period, you’ll see that there’s an epidemic of posts about how the next year will be about myself. About becoming a better version of whoever posted that. And it’s a wonderful thing, but this is not just theory.
Apparently small things, like going to bed earlier, procrastinating less, living a healthier and more meaningful life are all transformed into glittery goals. Which is a good, a wonderful thing, but it’s not making it past the first week of the new year. And there’s a good reason why.
Most of us live chaotic, fast-forward lives. We are constantly under pressure, constantly trying to achieve more and more in every sphere of our lives. We try to have both the perfect career and the perfect personal life, the perfect body and the delicious meals with our loved ones. And this, sooner or later, brings everyone into a state pretty close to survival mode. Or, if you’re not that lucky, burnout.
This is where the so-called failure begins. Do you know that Internet saying You can’t do epic things with basic people? Well, the same thing applies to life changes. You can’t evolve into a better person if you’re all caught up into survival mode. Because becoming a better person, even if that means that you’ll cut the junk food and sleep earlier, requires time, effort put into it and consistency. Or, if you have a bad time, if your resources are channeled into survival this period with minimum damage, evolution becomes a glittery dream.
Even if it’s uncomfortable, it is also true. But even if it’s true, this should not be an excuse for having bad behaviors that keep us from becoming the better versions which we know are possible.
Yes, we don’t have to give up trying to achieve something we know would be helpful, but we should not give into the social pressure of having a resolutions list either. We should, instead, try to be more introspective, to find out more about ourselves, and to gain a better understanding of how the human mind and emotions work.
We should begin this and every year with the understanding of the fact that balance can be solid this week, and to vanish away the next one. And, above all, we shouldn’t judge anyone.
If your only goal for the next year is to know more about yourself, it’s great. If your biggest accomplishment of the last year was to discover coping mechanisms that don’t involve self-destructive behaviours and are really effective, you’re doing a fabulous job. If your goal is getting professional care for your mental health, this is absolutely wonderful as well.
As long as they make sense to you, your achievements and your goals should not be explained to anyone else. Somehow, though, if you really, really want to see those goals becoming reality, you should begin by breaking them into tiny pieces. This is one effective way of getting things done, as I will have some veggies instead of fries for lunch today is way less scarier than Since today, I’m gonna have a healthy diet. And also far easier to accomplish.
Another thing to be considered is the fact that life ain’t linear. Neither life or progress are. There will be periods when everything will go according to plan, and periods when you couldn’t seem to be at greater distance of your goals. But this is part of the journey called life as well.
Even if the self-help literature and speakers tend to make individual evolution seem to be a piece of cake, it is, actually, more like building a house. It takes a huge amount of resources, time, patience and resilience. And, mostly, a very good memory, to remember the ups of the process and why have you started to do that in the first place.
But one of the most important reasons of not meeting the goals, is not the lack of consistency, or of discipline, or the desire of meeting them. No. One of the main reasons is that, often enough, evolution requires outside help. It might be a teacher, a mentor, a therapist or somebody that you genuinely and deeply admire. It might be your mom, or your little brother, this is not important. What matters, instead, is that some people do have this power, of making us trust ourselves a little more and judge ourselves a little less at the end of the day. These are our everyday heroes, which keep us going, and for which we should all be grateful.
And, no, you’re not a failure if you didn’t achieve all of your goals at the end of the year. As big or as small, progress is progress, and every step taken in the right direction matters. Make this journey feel as personal as it actually is, and do your best, daily, without emotional charge such as guilt, shame or envy.
The shortest recipe for a good year will always begin with a day, so find beauty in every day the little things to be grateful about. Because, at the end of the day, what fuels growth is the smile and the goodness that we manage to find in every day, day after day.