New Year Resolutions – To be or not to be?

I was listening to a conversation on the radio this morning about new year’s resolutions. The interviewee and presenter where at odds as to the value of them and the impact on our wellbeing, particularly in light of the governments lockdown announcement last night. It evolved into a conversation around the tension between having a goal to strive for, which we know is beneficial for our self-esteem, or living in the present moment and accepting what is, which we also know can be good for our mental health.

By way of assistance, Maslows Hierarchy of Needs came to mind (yup, it’s still alive and kicking!)

It helped me to conclude, when all of life’s big rocks; career, home, family & friends are settled, we naturally look to ‘what’s next?’ We feel inspired by setting some big hairy goals to help us satisfy our needs around Esteem and Self-actualization.  

However, when any of these rocks have been misplaced or are unstable, it can be more helpful to bring a level of self-compassion and set ourselves small goals in relation to getting these more basic needs met.  

When a fundamental need is not being met, it makes us fearful, our mind and body kicks into fight or flight mode and we can start to catastrophise playing out ‘what if’ scenarios and generally feeling anxious. It’s therefore beneficial to channel our energy into getting these fundamental needs met. If we try to focus, and put our energy into anything else at this point, we will be battling against our own built in safety mechanisms hence leading to fatigue, disappointment and yet another new year’s resolution falling by the wayside.  

I’ve hence concluded to ensure any goals I set myself are appropriate to the level I am currently at on this hierarchy. I also by the way, am not a fan of setting goals just because it’s the 1st of January. I suspect none of life’s great achievements were born from a goal that was set purely because it was the first day of a new year! 

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