As we step into a new year, the tradition of making resolutions is a standard practice. Despite setting these goals out of a desire to improve, they can often be misguided and leave us unfulfilled.
“The challenge of resolutions for a lot of people is the idea of perfection; this idea that you have to meet a standard, often guided by others’ expectations,” Anderson said. “And when you fall short, you can be too hard on yourself.”
To overcome the challenges of setting unrealistic goals and help align expectations with personal values, Anderson developed her “ABCs” of resolutions that highlight self-compassion.
Align Your Expectations (A): Anderson emphasizes the need to align resolutions with personal values and your life rather than societal pressures.
“Set goals that resonate with yourself, not ideals portrayed on platforms like Pinterest or TikTok,” she said.
Breathe and be present (B): Breathing is the body’s natural regulator, essential for mental health. Incorporating mindful breathing into daily routines helps your body to stay present.
Connect and build community (C): Because humans are social beings, it is important to build connections. For first-generation college students or anyone feeling adrift, creating supportive networks helps break down barriers and creates a sense of belonging.
Develop self-compassion (D): Striving for perfection can hinder progress and lead to self-criticism when goals aren’t met.
“We need to be kind to ourselves and recognize the journey toward improvement is an ongoing process,” Anderson said.
Expect to be human, not perfect (E): In acknowledging imperfection, Anderson promotes the idea of embracing one’s humanity.
“By focusing on small successes and celebrating progress, individuals shift their mindset from an all-or-nothing perspective to a balanced and compassionate approach,” Anderson said.
Give yourself grace (G): The theme of self-compassion continues with Anderson’s call to give oneself grace. Recognize that everyone has challenges and setbacks. Strive to have a kind and understanding attitude toward yourself.
Help – know when to seek support (H): It is important to recognize when help or support is needed. This goes beyond crisis situations, encouraging individuals to seek assistance for processing thoughts or having a supportive listener.
If you need help or someone to talk to, contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988.
Recognize your progress
By aligning our expectations, building connections and practicing self-compassion, we can create achievable goals.
Remember, the journey toward positive mental health is a continuous process, and each step forward, no matter how small, is a cause for celebration.
“It’s OK to be right where we are,” Anderson said. “And it’s sometimes important to say, ‘Wow, it’s been a tough year. I survived and here I am.’”