New year, same me: Why being yourself is enough
Sometimes goals aren’t the answer
Moving into a new year always brings with it connotations of a new beginning, a fresh start, a 'new me'. Most typically this is the time of year where we set new goals, make changes and resolve to become a better version of ourselves.
We have become a society and generation well versed in self-criticism, focusing obsessively on that which isn't good enough rather than looking at what is going well. Suddenly it's 2020 and we're looking around going 'fuck, an entire year has gone by and what have I done? What have I achieved? What am I working towards?'
University is a difficult time in your life, your 20s are a difficult time in your life. Sometimes it's ok to just continue being who you are, continue going as you are. Sometimes trying to be 'better' isn't the answer, isn't realistic and isn't necessary.
Now I am not claiming that people shouldn't try to improve, nor that the concept of setting goals is wrong in itself. However, I think that there are ways to go about it, making change through positive encouragement rather than negative criticism.
Recognise what you've achieved
We're so good at focusing on that which isn't good enough, or the things we're not doing, that we forget to look at everything we did do. Take a moment to recognise what you've achieved in 2019.
Working towards a degree is a wonderful goal, though it often feels like trudging through snow without getting anywhere. It can easily feel like you're not doing anything, or achieving anything. But continuing to work towards a degree is an achievement in and of itself. Every assignment you manage to hand in and exam you sit, those are achievements.
Look at the friends you've made and connections you've had. The people you've supported and those you've grown from. The skills you are improving, whether thats lifting heavier, cooking a couple times a week, or being more patient. The times you thought I can't handle this or I can't do this and you still did. Just having made it through the year, that is an achievement.
We are so good at supporting, encouraging and applauding our friends and family members. But when was the last time you showed yourself such appreciation and kindness?
Slowing down is good
Our generation is bred into a mindset of constant productivity and work. We romanticise and valorise constantly being busy. The adjective, basically denoting having much to do, has become a feeling; a description of a general state of mind and experience. We are tricked into thinking that we should constantly be doing something and begin to value our productivity levels beyond anything else. But to what end?
Making goals for the new year usually consists of wanting to do more and to do better. Learning a new skill or picking up a hobby, improving your abilities in something, or incorporating a new practice into your schedule.
Perhaps a much better goal for most of us would be to slow down. Take a deep breath and enjoy life, enjoy your accomplishments once in a while. Learn to be kind to yourself, reward yourself, relax. Treat yourself how you would treat someone you're in charge of taking care of; be kind, patient, understanding, generous.
Sometimes the answer to being more productive, focused, clear-minded, energetic, and passionate is doing less rather than doing more. Consider just doing nothing for a while. Learn to spend time on your own.
Set realistic goals
The most important aspect of a goal is having something that you can realistically be working towards. The downfall of goals in the new year is usually aiming too high, wanting too much and then falling short.
Starting the new year by going from exercising zero times a week to exercising five times a week isn't quite attainable. Furthermore, instead of recognising that this is too much and scaling it back, we are much more inclined to give up completely.
Starting small and doing better than you thought you would is a thousand times better than aiming high and falling short. Most people function best through positive reinforcement. If you manage to exercise three times in a week let yourself sleep in on Sunday. If you get those grades you have been aiming for take yourself out for a nice meal.
So moving into 2020 remember that you're doing fantastic and remember that you are enough. Acknowledge what can be improved, but not without recognising that which is going well already. Set goals, but know that being the same you is good too.