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  • Starting The New Year On The Right Foot Reframing What Progress Looks Like

    It’s that wonderful time of year again where we say goodbye to the old year, and welcome in the new one with open arms. We celebrate this event time and time again because there is something inspiring and exciting about “turning a chapter” in our lives.

    As we reflect on the ups and downs of the previous year, and as we think about our mistakes and our successes, it is helpful to reframe what past progress looks like. As we plan our new year’s resolutions, and fantasize about the new and improved version of us for the coming year, we also want to reframe what future progress can look like.

    People frequently see progress as linear, when in reality progress can take many twists and turns. Even when we make mistakes, we can take the time to learn from those mistakes. Sometimes we can take many steps forward towards a goal, and then may take a few steps back to accommodate outside factors. Sometimes we can become dejected when we feel that progress is not linear or when we feel we are not meeting our goals at a fast enough pace. Unfortunately that lack of enthusiasm can derail us from our goals. There is beauty and excitement in the journey towards our goals, not just in the end goals themselves.

    As an example, how many times have you or a friend made a New Year’s resolution to get fit again? You hit the gym with renewed fervor, start meal planning, and start sharing your progress with others. Then you catch a cold, take a few days off to recuperate, and you notice your weight has shifted.

    People who maintain an open mind and define progress as non-linear, will take in this new information, and return to their fitness habits when they feel ready to do so. This slight obstacle is only a minor setback, and they may understand the holistic benefits of continuing to exercise even if the scale shows a different result. People who tend to have an “all or nothing” mindset, may feel desperate about the slight change in progress, and may quit altogether. In doing so, they are not only letting go of their original goal, but they are also letting go of the experiences and connections that could have been made along the way.

    This same concept can be applied to many aspects of life. Improving our relationships, getting more organized, and taking care of our mental health are a few examples of actions that may be difficult to quantify. However when we see progress as non-linear, we can appreciate and notice the nuanced differences in how we think and relate to others.

    When you look back at 2023, what do you notice? More than likely there are elements of loss as well as gains. When you analyze the things you did not like, do you notice what you learned about yourself as you experienced this? If you can only fixate on the negative aspects of these experiences, then you may have difficulty enjoying the coming year as well. If you have identified that you are in the category of someone who takes an “all or nothing” approach, it may be helpful to start reframing your definition of progress and success.

    Seeing progress as non-linear and fluid can set the stage for an enriching and interesting new year!