Contributed by: Austin Raines

Congratulations on making it to a new year! The start of the new year comes with so much excitement and promise. The phrase “new year, new me” continues to grow in popularity and reinforces the concept that at the start of the new year people can transform into their “ideal self.” While self-improvement should not be frowned upon, I believe it is incredibly important to take the time and understand how working from the perspective of a total transformation can put unrealistic expectations on yourself and the rest of the members in your household. The inability to meet your lofty expectations can strengthen feelings of not being good enough. We already receive so much external pressure to push towards growth, when you add in internal pressure it can be a detriment to your mental health. This added pressure can lead to increased levels of anxiety and can damage your perception of yourself.

The beauty of the new year is it not only provides a natural period of transition and change, but it works as point of reflection as well. This year I would challenge you to instead of looking at new years as a period of transformation, take the time to reflect over the past 365 days. Try not only to look forward to areas in your life you want to improve, but try and look back at the past year and reflect on the successes you’ve had and the personal growth you or your loved ones have made. Being overly focused on the future and goals we make for ourselves oftentimes blinds our ability to look back and appreciate everything we have already accomplished.

Map out 2022 and first reflect on the things you accomplished that make you proud no matter how big or small. Secondly, take the time to reflect on all of the things your partner and children accomplished that you are proud of. This is also a good time to consider what might not have worked in 2022, so you can take that knowledge and apply it to 2023. Through this reflection, you can understand that you do have ability to change. You are someone that is on the road to self-improvement.

Being able to reflect on our accomplishments not only boosts our self-esteem, it can also give you a fantastic idea of what you enjoy and what you are actually proud of. Having a better understanding of what you value can reduce your levels of stress and help inspire you to build upon preexisting healthy habits. Creating completely new habits is much more difficult then improving habits you already posses and know you are capable of.

Knowing your values and knowing what you are good at can lead to helping you live a life that more closely aligns with your values. Be yourself. Create resolutions that align with who you are and the person or parent you want to be. Without this time of reflection, it can be difficult to work towards self-improvement that you deem valuable. It can lead us to create resolutions that others around us may view as valuable because we are not aware of what is valuable to ourselves.

Now, after you have been able to reflect yourself, take the time to do it with your children. Sit down with them and start off by reviewing the past year. Discuss everything they have accomplished and emphasize how proud you are. Doing this can establish a new precedent that demonstrates you are working on being more intentional and indicates to them that you value their achievements. It can also help them realize that you are aware of who they are as an individual. Aid them in establishing realistic goals for the upcoming new year that align with who they are not just as your child, but who they are as maturing, young person that is trying to navigate a period of self-discovery.

As we look a head to 2023, remember all of your accomplishments and progress from 2022. Also, take the time to sit with and recognize your struggles from the past year. What did you learn from those trials? How did you gain strength? Acquiring a newfound self-appreciation of these accomplishments and recognizing your fortitude will give you the tools to better achieve everything you want to in the coming year!