I am asking you this question for a couple of reasons. This year more people looked forward to and were able to celebrate the holidays in a way that felt more like pre-pandemic. When it is over, we feel a holiday let-down that extends into January, the longest, coldest, and darkest month of the year. Many feel the effects of the long gloomy days. In addition, we are still feeling the stress of the pandemic. The stress of this will carry over into the new year unless we do something to change it.
The APA (American Psychological Association) reports that 84% of Americans report increased feelings emotions of anxiety, sadness, and anger, all signs of prolonged stress. This stress comes from all aspects of life and how we feel about what is going on in our world as well as what is going on in our personal lives.
The news has reported that people have been resigning from their jobs in record numbers to find jobs that allow for better work-life balance. The gift of the pandemic, if you can call it that, is that people had an opportunity to look at their lives and decide what they wanted.
Even when you know that you want to make a change, it can be hard to begin. In our busy world, we can get distracted, lack focus, or feel like we do not have the right mindset to achieve what we want most.
The most powerful resource you have is within you and it all begins with self-awareness. This is our ability to be able to observe what we are thinking and doing and connect them to our actions. An example of that would be when you find all the ways that you cannot do something, so you do not do it. Self-awareness is when you realize that those reasons are just you just getting in your own way. It is important to acknowledge what is standing in the way but also to realize you hold the power to move any obstacle that is put in front of you by taking one small step at t time.
This past Christmas, our 11-year-old granddaughter became afraid to fly, even though she had done it dozens of times before. She realized the plane could crash and that became the only thing she could think about. I helped her realize there was more than one thing that could be true at the same time. She knew planes were safe but also knew she was afraid they might crash. When we made it ok to be afraid and that planes were safe to fly in she was able to make a shift. With that mantra, she began to realize that even though she was afraid she also realized how safe planes are to travel in. This is true for us too, we can be afraid and not know our next step but can move past fear and do it anyway.
The key to change is one small step at a time. Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? The reason most resolutions fail is not that you do not have the willpower or skill to get it done, as we might believe about ourselves, but because the goal we made is unattainable in the time, we have given ourselves to do it. You probably have a lengthy list of things you would like to change about yourself, just do not do them all at once. Pick one thing that feels doable to you and then break it down into small parts that you can sustain over time. My morning inspirational time sets up the day for me, and it’s imperative that I do it every day. However, it was not always like that. I know I needed time to gather my thoughts and check in with myself at a time when I had zero time. I started with 5 minutes twice a week. Once I could do that, I gradually increased it week by week. In this way, I was easing into making a change that could be sustained and building a new habit. It’s easy to think that new habits form easily but it takes intention, focus, and consistency to facilitate any change.
We are all constantly changing whether we like it or not. Since change is inevitable, we can either do it kicking and screaming or we can cooperate with what no longer works in our life and change it. But more than that, we have an innate sense within us that makes us want to be the best person that we can be for ourselves, our friends, family, and the community we are part of. Growing and changing are not only about us. When we improve our integrity, become more tolerant of ourselves, grow our understanding and compassion for ourselves this extends out from us to others. This is the way that we can impact the world around us in a powerful way.
It is important to remember that all of us are seeking the same thing; kindness, understanding, respect, and unconditional love. The more we can give that to ourselves, the more we can offer it to others. You are the one who holds the key to what you want for your life.