Dorset Mind Ambassador Lucy Lewis ignores the pressure of a ‘new year, new you’ approach, and reminds us to treat ourselves the way we treat others
Around this time of year, many of us find ourselves caught in society’s whirlwind of resolutions and fresh starts. The pressure to set ambitious goals and embark on transformative journeys can feel overwhelming, often leading to self-doubt and anxiety.
However, it’s crucial to recognise that the pursuit of self-improvement doesn’t have to be a source of stress! Embracing self-compassion and setting realistic goals can simply pave the way for a healthier and more fulfilling journey towards personal growth.
The pitfalls of unrealistic expectations
The allure of a fresh, clean new year often brings with it hopes of instant and profound change. Societal messaging can sometimes portray the new year as a ‘reset button’ for our lives.
But this mindset can set us up for disappointment and self-criticism when we don’t achieve those big goals.
Instead of succumbing to the pressure of immediate transformation, it is better to focus on gradual progress. Change is a process – small, consistent steps will lead to significant improvements over time. Celebrate the small victories and acknowledge that setbacks are a natural part of the journey. It is good to want to work on yourself, but it’s equally important to establish objectives that are achievable.
One way to do this is by adopting the SMART criteria for goal-setting – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Break down larger objectives into smaller, more manageable tasks, allowing for a sense of accomplishment at each milestone. This not only keeps you motivated but also prevents the overwhelming burden of an enormous goal.
The importance of kindness
In the pursuit of self-improvement, it’s easy to overlook the significance of being kind – to yourself. Sometimes we feel that if we are harsh on ourselves for falling short, we are less likely to make mistakes again. However, all we’re doing is making the journey of self-improvement stressful – and making us more likely to quit. Mistakes and setbacks are a non-negotiable part of progress and should not be punished.
Instead of saying, “I failed,” reframe it as, “I experienced a setback, and that’s okay. What can I learn from this?”
Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a friend facing a similar challenge.
Surrounding yourself with a supportive community can significantly help your personal growth. Share your goals with trusted friends or family members who can offer encouragement and understanding.
It can also be helpful to connect with others who share similar goals. Having a support system can provide valuable insights, motivation and a sense of accountability. Support systems are not just motivating – they can also allow you to see the contrast between how you speak to yourself and your peers following setbacks. Remember, you deserve the same kindness and understanding that you would give to someone else.
Dorset Mind wishes you a very happy 2024!
Support for you:
Visit dorsetmind.uk for local mental health support and ways to keep mentally healthy
Call Samaritans on 116 123 for free 24/7 emotional support
Call Dorset’s mental health helpline Connection for support on NHS 111
Call 999 if someone is in immediate danger