Did you make any New Year's resolutions this year? If you did, are you keeping them so far?
Most of us start out with the best of intentions, whether it's losing weight, quitting smoking, or getting into better shape. But somehow, over the course of weeks or months, those intentions lose their oomph. For those of us who are grieving the loss of someone or something precious, staying motivated and goal-focused is especially challenging.
Navigating a life transition means you are in the midst of change. It may be an unwelcome change. We find ourselves having to somehow accept something that's unacceptable, or having to make peace with something we never envisioned. All that change makes it almost impossible to think about choosing more change, and yet that's what resolutions are all about.
Since humans typically find comfort in the familiar, I propose we observe the beginning of the New Year in a much gentler way. Let's begin 2013 with meaning and hope instead of difficulty and possibly regret. Here's how:
Take stock of the past year.
Ask yourself what lessons you learned in 2012. Did you experience some difficulties or challenges? Did something go really well for you? Life often teaches us important lessons if we take the time to consider what happened, how or why it happened, and how we responded.
What discoveries did you make about yourself last year? Perhaps you had a new self-realization due to your experiences and you identified a part of yourself that wasn't obvious before. Don't be quick to label these discoveries good or bad; time will clarify whether they're useful or not.
What personal qualities were strengthened last year? Again, don't be in a hurry to self-judge. Think about all your unique features and assess which, if any, were fortified during the year.
Which of your strengths became more apparent in the past year? Focusing only on your strengths (and we all have them), consider which ones became clearer over the past 12 months.
Ponder your ongoing development and priorities.
Based on all the lessons, discoveries, qualities, and strengths of the past year, are you becoming a different person than you used to be? In what ways? Is this a course you'd like to continue or would you like to modify it somewhat? Remember that we all continue to evolve over the course of our lives.
What is important to you now compared to what used to be important? Again, keeping in mind your personal assessment of 2012, think about whether or not your priorities and values have been impacted and, if so, how. Clarify today's priorities.
Determine next steps.
Now that you have assessed the past year, considered your development, and identified your priorities, you're ready to think about what you want to focus on this year. Rather than listing what you want to do, I encourage you to think about who you are and how you're continuing to grow.
What would you like to learn this year? What strengths would you like to enhance? What joys can you bring into your life that aren't there now? How might you embody your values and priorities? The answers to these questions will illuminate your plan for the New Year and keep you moving in a meaningful direction.
Essays on Grief Resilience