Aubree Steen, FNTP
2020. Need I say more? This year was tumultuous, heart wrenching, and chaotic for most. We learned new normals, had to adjust to new routines, sacrificed experiences that bring us joy, separated ourselves from the ones we loved most, and had to grow in unexpected ways. Some lost the people they loved the most. Some are still dealing with horrendous side effects after testing positive with COVID-19. There are two things I want to lovingly address in this post: how to make realistic, attainable goals and how to give yourself grace for not making goals set for last year.
Give yourself grace for not making any goals you set this past New Years Eve.
I want to take a moment to touch on this topic. Last year, most of you probably set goals. You wanted to start a new business, finally travel to a destination you’ve set your heart on, exercise more, shrink a pant size, or grow into the person you’ve wanted to become spiritually. For most, their goals weren’t achievable. For the first time in most of our lifetimes, we lived in a global pandemic. Almost 2 million people died of a virus that was insidious, jobs were lost, and let’s be honest, sanity was lost more than anything. We were put into situations we’ve never had to deal with before, with the majority going into survival mode. I want to make something clear: if you didn’t achieve any goals you set, but just made it out of this year alive (literally), you did fantastic. It’s difficult to see simply surviving a pandemic as a goal and achievement, but it truly is.
Reflect on any achievement you’re proud of, regardless of how small it was.
Did you manage to sleep 8 hours one night amidst the chaos of a new work-from-home schedule? Success in my book. Did you still somehow show love and admiration for the ones closest to you after a job loss? Success. Were you able to hold space for others when they lost someone to COVID? Success. Did you literally survive this year? Success.
It may seem a bit cheesy, but we have to try and reframe our definition of success.
As society, we are always trying to keep up with one another. With the digital revolution constantly showing extreme success of other people, we’re getting a steady stream of discouragement and feeling of defeat. With the pandemic, we became even more dependent on social media and technology. I’m ever-grateful for the ability to communicate and see our loved ones faces within seconds, but it also pushed us deeper into a reliance of our phones. It exposed us to the daily hit of dopamine we get from scrolling, continuing to let us feel empty when we don’t get more. It also had us exposed to the idealized life of others who were more privileged, had more success, and lived a life that is unattainable to most. Seeing this on the daily is a constant sense of deprivation.
Take a breath, say thank you to your body (regardless of what stage of healing you’re in), and try to look back on this year knowing purely surviving is the ultimate success.
Choosing goals for the new year should be attainable, or else you’ll set yourself up for failure before you even try.
We’re so used to setting an outrageous goal for New Years. “Oh, I’m going to lose 30 pounds! Yoga every day! Drastically change my diet!” With these huge steps out of our comfort zone, most of us end up losing steam and giving up within the first months of the year. The important thing to know is that you’re not failing, your goal is just unattainable.
Unattainability is subjective and relative to each person. It’s so different from person to person, that we even spend months, sometimes years, learning how to help patients develop and attain their goals specific to them because everyone is wired differently. This is a blessing, and nothing to be shamed of. Some people can jump all in, but some people take years. I’m one of those people, and 90% of us at the practice work in that way, as well. I’m mentioning this, because there’s this feeling of doom, failure, and unworthiness when we don’t achieve a goal that we’ve unexpectedly set too high for ourselves. Dr. Caroline Leaf, a neuroscientist, explains that the brain takes roughly 90 days to create neural pathways that create a habit. 90 days. My advice, take that and run with it. Give yourself 90 days to make one change at a time. Is it slow? Sure. Does it work? Absolutely.
Here’s my advice on how to set goals for the New Year:
- Choose a goal that isn’t reinforcing diet culture, rather is focused on a more healthful body, mind, and soul.
- Focus on improving your mindset around healing/improving your health:
- I will make healthier choices for my body
- I will give myself time to heal without judgement
- I will practice self care
- I will focus on things that bring me joy
- I will move my body to feel vibrant
- Develop Boundaries. Learn to say no and when to push yourself. Separate yourself from toxic people.
- Develop small health goals that will build on top of each other. Give yourself 90 days for each small goal:
- I will make my plate 75% veggies
- I will try to exercise 2 times per week – 15 minutes to start (work your way up later)
- I will try and meditation 1 time per week (start with 2 minutes)
- I will cook one meal at home per week
When you start with small attainable goals, you can achieve them and feel more successful. Once you’ve hit that exercise twice a week, aim for three! Don’t move onto the next goal or increase your goal until you’re successful with the first. Start small so you can overachieve, instead of starting big and not meeting your goal.
We’re always here to cheer you on. With love to each and every one of you,
Aubree Steen, FNTP