It is believed that when one has a near-death experience, their life flashes before their eyes. This prompts people to question: ‘Will I be satisfied with what I see then?’ Most often, the fear is that we won’t, and we’ll regret it when it’s too late.
Today, we have apps that do this for us. They show us our year in review, the keywords we typed, the colours we used, the memories we shared and so on. Logically, since most people post their achievements on social media, these are meant to make us feel better, right? Unsurprisingly, people feel like they didn’t do enough, succeed enough, feel enough or live enough. While we view another person’s video, we’re seeing their successes, but when we watch our own, we’re seeing our missed opportunities or what ‘could’ or ‘should’ have been. Thus, we feel like we did not make the most of this year, feel bad about it, and thereby decide that next year, we’ve to compensate for the lost chances from this year. Cue the resolutions (I will exercise more/eat healthy this year) and goals (I will lose 5 kgs by June) for the new year. Miss one day, and we lose motivation and bully ourselves for having missed it (Now I’ve to work harder to catch up). Essentially, we have set ourselves up for failure – we are trying to go up a slippery slope and wondering why we haven’t reached the top yet, and why everyone always seems to be ahead of us.
Sometimes, seeing the bigger picture helps us keep track of where we are headed. However, the end of the year is an arbitrary time to take stock of where we are, and set unrealistic goals to reach an ideal version of ourselves. New year resolutions don’t (usually) work because we are forcing a change overnight – and a conditional time-bound one along with that (I start a new lifestyle/new me tomorrow – and if I blow it even once, there’s no hope for me anymore this year).
This year, let’s replace the pressure of total transformation with gratitude. Think of achievements or things in your life that you’re grateful for. Acknowledging those successes is crucial in moving forward to setting new goals.
Similarly, for each goal you make, think of ways to emotionally reward yourself regardless of whether or not you work towards that goal. (I have not exercised today, and I will have a chocolate chip cookie anyway – because I feel like it. It is unrelated to me making ‘good enough’ progress towards my goal). The lesser the conditionality in our behaviour, the better we feel about the goal.
The end of the year or the start of another year can seem intimidating when it looms closer. Let’s recognize that we can choose to start over any day, not just in the New year. If you’re feeling good about where you are, there is no need to tweak anything about it for the sake of making a change. If it helps, you can make a small change today, or tomorrow, or any other day that isn’t 1st Jan, and it will still be every bit as powerful and effective – without the added pressure.
Here’s to taking one step at a time!
This article has been written by Ms Nandita Seshadri, a therapist, and integral part of Adveka Foundation.