Welcome to 2020! I acknowledge that not everyone gets excited about a new year, but I always feel rejuvenated and hopeful when January 1 hits. I enjoy taking some time to reflect back on the past year and recognize ways that I have grown. I try to give myself a generous portion of compassion for my mistakes, failures, and struggles of the past year and try to prioritize self-compassion in the year to come. For me, a new year is a time re-focus and take an inventory of how congruent my life is with my values.

If you’re like me, you’ve seen post after post on social media about resolutions, comments like, “new year, new me,” and big plans for 2020 finally being the year to shine. I love watching people have a renewed sense of energy around change and growth. I can feel this energy for change in my friends, clients, co-workers, and family members. This energy is motivating and exciting…and can quickly burn hot and bright and disappear if we do not properly take care of it. I want to talk about some important dos and don’ts of the New Year to help us really keep this intention to change and grow from January 2020 to December 2020.

Do Reflect

As the new year kicks off, do take time to reflect on your past year. Find places of growth, express gratitude, and decide what tweaks could be made to continue to grow and thrive. Perhaps you can reflect with a close friend or through journal writing. For me, reflecting on the past year allows me to feel proud of what I accomplished and overcame, while being compassionate with my flaws and missteps.

Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater

In the new year, I think it is easy for us to want a complete re-vamp. However, the fact of the matter is, most of the things you’re doing and the skills and attributes you possess are great! Do not fall into the “new year, new me” trap of throwing out all the beautiful, parts of yourself and your life that are working for you. Most of the time I think we need small adjustments to really refine us rather than large-scale overhauls. Finding ways to build on the things you’re already doing and who you already are will allow your goals to be more palatable and more doable in the new year.

Do Set Intentions

There are lots of ways to set goals in the new year. Different ways work for different people! For me, I like to choose a word of the year. Last year my word was “Invest.” Each week I would write in my journal ways in which I had invested that week and ways I wanted to invest in the week to come. This was a way for me to actively create manageable goals each week. This also helped me to set overall intentions and allow my goals to be flexible as I progressed throughout the year and as my circumstances changed. Looking back at 2019, I truly did invest! This year, my word is “present,” meaning to be focused and wholly there (and if that also means receiving more presents this year I won’t complain 😉 )

Don’t Get Caught Up in What Others are Doing

Is it just me or does the comparison monster have the potential to wreak havoc on our lives during the new year? It’s easy to feel like you’re not doing enough when you check out other people’s goals or what they have accomplished over the past year. It’s cliché, but it’s so important just to focus on what you’re doing and what your progress in the new year needs to look like. Your growth is what is the most valuable and your growth cannot be found in others’ goals! This is especially true and important when it comes to dieting, body shaming, etc. Remember, you do NOT have to buy into the loud messages about body and food just because other people are.

Do Exercise Self-Compassion

When trying to intentionally grow, we often come up against road blocks. When this happens, it can be really easy to want to be hard on ourselves, trying to motivate us to be better. However, being overly self-critical can actually deter us from pushing forward and growing. This year, trade out your old self-criticism for self-compassion. While you’re working hard to change and become better, allow ample room for gentleness, kindness, and self-compassion. How would you respond to a friend in a similar situation? Check out some resources from self-compassion expert and researcher, Kristin Neff, HERE.

Don’t Give Up!

Finally, don’t give up! If you recognize in March that your goal to learn a new instrument has fallen by the wayside, don’t be afraid to create some new goals and start it up again. Remember, everyone comes up against challenges when trying to meaningfully change…you’re in good company! Keep trying, allowing yourself to make tweaks and adjustments to your plan along the way. Hopefully these dos and don’ts of 2020 will help you start and stay on the right path.