New Year 2021: A New Spin On An Old Tradition

Well it's that time of year when the pressure is on to make some serious demands of ourselves. It's just that in January we call these demands 'resolutions'. This year it may feel particularly urgent to make up for all the things that couldn't happen in 2020. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for self-improvement and positive changes but I think this year we need a different approach to match these very unique circumstances. We usually pick resolutions that focus on a perceived deficiency, the most common ones being related to our physical appearance or lifestyle. They show up disguised as, "Ok this is THE year to be the BEST version of myself so I really need to lose those (insert arbitrary number) pounds!" We exclaim, "I'm going to meditate way more!” “I'm going to be more organized!”  “I'm eating healthy and working out everyday!!!" However by January 8th, those resolutions seem like a distant memory and we find ourselves stuck in the same frustrating loop feeling defeated.      

This year let's try and do something different. Instead of reflecting back on 2020 as the year of missed opportunities, let's shift our focus to be about making 2021 the year of grace we need to honor our resilience. We can still have our New Year's resolutions, I just want them to be focused on how to appreciate yourself instead of how to improve yourself.

Here are 4 ways to transition from Self-Improvement to Self-Appreciation:

1 . Gratitude

I heard a beautiful saying that perfectly defines the purpose of gratitude. It simply said that being grateful means you recognize and appreciate what you have as being enough. When something feels like enough it means we are satisfied. Build a culture of gratitude for yourself as a reminder that you are enough just as you are. This transforms feelings of dissatisfaction to feeling more content. 

2 . Celebrate! 

"Sometimes our expectation of perfection stops our celebration of progress." This quote resonates with me because it challenges the normalized idea that we must postpone our happiness until everything is "perfect." Perfection is an illusion that limits our actual potential. It can restrict our willingness to pivot and adapt to life's unexpected challenges. This year, let's shift the focus to our accomplishments instead of our perceived imperfections. That will create a sense of pride rather than discouragement and that's definitely something to celebrate! 

3 . Trust Yourself

You've been there for yourself every step of the way. As you read this, please take the time to realize that you have survived 100% of your most challenging experiences and have emerged wiser and more equipped. Resolve to trust your intuition more this year.

4 . Get Support

Recognizing that you deserve support is one step closer to appreciating yourself. It means you are honoring your struggles. Getting support can assist with building the skills needed to trust yourself and celebrate your progress. Let's reframe asking for support from feeling weak to feeling worthy! Let's enter 2021 with the mindset of working with yourself, not against. Promise to love yourself unconditionally and to appreciate the challenges you have overcome in the past years, and ESPECIALLY this last year.

Written by Ann Basta, MD, LSW