It’s January 1st, and for many of us the new year heralds the all too familiar “this year I’m going to (insert self critical phrase here — eg; get thinner, work out harder, ramp up my career or be a better parent)…” STOP. Just STOP. And make this year different. Make 2016 the year you become kind to yourself.
That doesn’t mean you can’t improve your life, or strive to be a better version of your present self. Go for it! But don’t base your changes on self-criticism– because that is a guarantee of failure. Over 90% of NY resolutions fail. The math is not on your side!
Besides cutting yourself some slack, make your goals realistic. It’s fairly simple if you use the concept of “baby steps”. Pick one goal related to your desired change —
- I want to lose weight so I will stop drinking soda of all kinds and replace it with water this week. Next week I’ll take another small step.
- I want to be a better parent, so instead of yelling “stop arguing!” at my kids, I’ll explain why it is painful to ME to see them hurt each other, I’ll use “I” statements that don’t shame them.
- I want to be taken more seriously at work, but that involves me respecting myself first — I will be on time, set goals, or sit down with my boss and discuss how my ideas can contribute. Or I’ll take a course I’ve been putting off.
And then master that ONE change and add another when you’ve got the first one down.
In the meantime, try these 5 ways to be kind to yourself:
- Change your thoughts: one of the best ways is author Elizabeth Gilbert’s idea of a Happiness Jar. Take one minute each evening to jot down one thing that brought you joy, and pop it in the jar. Read more here, but this is a practice, like a Gratitude Journal, that can quite literally shift your thinking.
- Take time to set intentions each day. Wake up 5 min earlier and give yourself time to focus on what you want to accomplish and if that list dovetails with your goals. If not, challenge yourself to ask if you need to change your “to do” list.
- Take time for nurturing your soul— what gives you joy? Art? Music? Books? Yoga? Meditation? Whatever it is, CARVE out time for it. If not daily, then at the very least several times a week. If you are type A — put it in your calendar and make it non-negotiable until it becomes more natural. And if it doesn’t bring you perspective, find something else to do that fuels you.
- Surround yourself with friends who bring you laughter and will call you out on your sh*t! Nurture those friendships. It isn’t quantity with friends, but quality. Talking deeply and vulnerably with good friends gives us a new vantage point to see ourselves more objectively.
- When you find yourself full of self criticism, STOP. Take a deep breath. Ask yourself one question “would I treat a friend this way?” If the answer is “no”, it is time to look at yourself differently– cut yourself the same slack you’d give a friend.
2016 could be the year you get a new best friend: YOURSELF.