New Years can hold a variety of meaning for people. While the concept of the “New Year’s Resolution” is a popular annual game, it is the overall opportunity that New Years represents which is worthy of our attention. The opportunities people embrace are different for everyone. But what New Years provides is a marker in time to check in with ourselves. These can be opportunities to improve ourselves overall, improve our relationships with ourselves and others, our emotional health, self-care, fulfillment habits, and others. These opportunities are really open to us year round, but New Years is a convenient point in time that reminds us to reflect on our lives as a whole, including our self-improvement goals.
Here are some areas to consider reflecting on in the new year:
- Self-fulfillment — How do you feel about the quality of your place in the world? Do you enjoy your job/career/school? Do you look forward to experiencing what the next day will bring? Do you find yourself interacting with others and engaging in hobbies or activities that you bring you passion and excitement? Or, on the contrary, do you find yourself generally not happy with your day to day routine, wishing for a different career, finding it difficult to get out of bed more often than not, becoming more isolated, not having a strong support system, not engaging in fulfilling activities, etc.?
- Relationships — This can be the quality of your friendships or romantic relationships. Do you want to be creating more opportunities for friendships, going out with friends on a more regular basis, get back into dating, make more time for your significant other to connect more regularly? Do you want to work on difficulties with intimacy, patterns that are getting in the way of healthy relationships (infidelity, difficulty with commitment, co-dependency, etc.)?
- Self-Relationship — This is more about how you see and relate to yourself. Do you wish to have more confidence in yourself and in your abilities? Do you want to see yourself in a way that opens more opportunities for success, or be more compassionate, loving, and accepting of yourself and the qualities that make up who you are? Self-relationship also includes mental and emotional health. Do you wish to address the anxiety or depression you’ve been trying to manage internally? Or make more time for self-improvement through therapy? Conquer your fear of flying or social anxiety or some other phobia or obstacle to being in control of your own life opportunities? Do you want to work on eliminating destructive or self-defeating habits? And others..
- Hobbies and self-care — In some way all of the above is self-care. However, it’s important for emotional health that at least some time each week is spent actually engaging in something you find fulfilling and relevant to your own needs. If you don’t have any of these kinds of activities or hobbies, this may be a good time to reflect on what would add some passion and fulfillment to your weeks. Musical instrument lessons? Sports (individual or team)? Art classes? Self-defense classes? Photography? Or anything else that moves you..
- Asking for help — Do you want to move forward in any of the above areas but find it difficult to motivate yourself, or become stuck knowing what the next step should be in order to move forward? People often think they “should” be able to figure life out themselves and therefore refuse to ask for help. This can lead to struggling in silence through various areas of life and end up stuck in self-defeating patterns — defeating externally in life as well as emotionally. Therapy is specifically here to help people come out the other side of these struggles while helping create the balance and quality of life you wish to have. There is no shame in asking for help. In fact, it’s admirable and courageous (and honestly, generally necessary in life) to ask for help.
In my practice, I see people every day who are looking for help with one of the above areas, or others not listed in this post. In fact, many who I work with begin not necessarily fully knowing which areas they wish to improve, but do know they want to start looking into themselves and start the process of self-reflection and self-understanding to become more empowered in their lives. Life is complicated and has many moving parts. It can take some help just to sift through the pieces sometimes to make sense of where you are now and where you want to go. Perhaps this New Year, if you’ve been delaying moving forward or if you’ve been holding the struggles inside, maybe asking for help can be the opportunity to embrace.