Each January many University of Arizona colleagues practice the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. Those of us who spent the holiday season indulging in food, parties, and extra spending may be feeling guilty or distressed. The start of a new year offers an opportunity to transform unhealthy habits into something different, or perhaps to “get back on track.”
Growth and change are essential for development throughout our lifespan. Challenging ourselves to evolve is a good thing. But when making a resolution, it’s important to be aware of the internal dialogue in our head. Is our tone self-critical or self-compassionate? Many resolutions fizzle out by March (if not earlier). Why? I suspect it is not because we lack internal resources to meet our goals. Rather, our self-critical voice, not our compassionate voice, is motivating us. We are more likely to give up when the critic in our head is our coach.
This year, try approaching resolutions with self-compassion. Identify one or two realistic goals to work toward. Frame goals in a way that is supportive, rather than judgmental. For example, “I want to exercise more so that I feel less stressed.” Savor the feeling of success each time you take a step toward your goal. Reframe negative, judgmental self-talk whenever it surfaces.
Here’s to a Happy (and compassionate) New Year!
Join the Center for Compassion Studies for Meditation Mondays to help support your New Year’s resolutions.