Heading Into 2022 rē•Freshed
It’s the time of year to hit rē•set
The coming of a new year is often viewed as a clean slate by default. It’s seen as a way to mark progress and move forward in the world. All of this while bidding farewell to the old and welcoming the new. But what if there is a healthier way to frame the new year in the mind?
In some ways, saying sayonara to the past with a commitment to doing it “better” the next time around does not facilitate the best outcomes. For one, it imparts judgment on the process instead of honoring where you are in the moment. But it also sends the message that any unmet goals at year’s end are disappointments. You might get the idea that recommitting yourself to new ones instead is like a “get out of jail free” card. In truth, even if you have somewhat let go of your discipline by the year’s end, this is a normal part of life. As with any goal, it simply requires getting back on that wagon any time you fall off. Oftentimes your long-term goals remain the same from year to year. The fine-tuned tweaks to your behaviors are what come via your resolutions.
This year, try things differently. Seize the opportunity to adopt a healthy mindset while still acknowledging everything endured to date. To rē•set your mindset for the new year might admittedly take a little introspection and processing (considering just how much we have collectively been through in the last two years). But you can still finish off this year strong and manifest a more aligned year ahead by envisioning the new year as a rē•fresh and rē•commitment to your long-term goals, rather than the opportunity for a “rē•do.”
The past is in the past…or is it?
Amy Morin, LCSW, psychotherapist and editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind, acknowledges that people love a fresh start to the beginning of a new year. It’s akin to breaking the spine on a new book, cracking open a new notebook for the first time, or even opening a brand new word document on your computer – the possibilities seem endless. As the time of year when talk of resolutions arises, this fresh start feels even more appealing. As Morin explains, “It’s a great time to rē•set our habits and think about what we want to do differently in the coming year.”
Thinking of each new year as a clean slate isn’t inherently bad, but it also ignores a key factor to consider in all areas of our life: history. As the author Jonathan Safran Foer once wrote, “Everything is illuminated in the light of the past. It is always along the side of us, on the inside looking out.” Because the past makes up an ever-present portion of the lens through which we continually view life, treating the past as strictly over and done isn’t the most accurate or healthy way to live life. This is especially important to address when there is a degree of discomfort or even collective trauma to be resolved.
“It’s important to learn from our past experiences. We developed unhealthy habits or got into relationships that weren’t good for us for a reason,” Morin tells rē•spin. “So, it’s important to learn from those things, so we don’t repeat them. It’s also important to learn from past positive experiences. When you did something well, think about how you managed to do that. You can take the information and apply it to new circumstances.”
The role of mindset
The truth is, anytime you approach a milestone, turning point, or period of change in life – whether seasonally or a massive life event – mindset plays a key role in its future trajectory. As Morin explains, thoughts influence behavior as well as emotional experience. Mindset is thus a determinant in responses, reactions, moods, and future plans. “[For example], if you view obstacles as a challenge, you’ll work to overcome them. If you view obstacles as a threat, you are more likely to give up,” Morin says.
And so, rather than being overcome by the adversity of the last year or two, shift your focus onto what you want to cultivate and bring about moving forward. “It’s important to set short-term and long-term goals,” Morin suggests. “So, you might consider what you want to accomplish during the rest of this year while also thinking ahead to your bigger goals for the coming year.”
An ideal ‘new year mindset.’
Mindset thus plays a pivotal role in setting yourself up for success in meeting your goals and resolutions in 2022. As you process the last year, Morin suggests you think about the lessons you faced with an integrated. “Consider what habits or strategies you want to carry forward,” she adds. “When it comes to the hardships you faced, think about how you found the strength to get through the tough times.”
As a collective, we’re all in a similar boat. Despite our varying circumstances and locales, the last two years have presented all with unexpected and undeserved phenomena. “True mental strength balances self-acceptance with self-improvement,” Morin says. “You can acknowledge the improvements you want to make next year while still loving yourself just the way you are.” It is part of the human condition to experience regrets and “what ifs,” but when looking ahead, work on bringing your mindset to a place of neutrality and acceptance from which to move onward into 2022.