It's Time to Make a New Year's Resolution
By Lynn Cukaj, ATR-BC www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com
Art Therapy for Children, Teenagers and Adults
New Year’s Resolutions…this statement hits the forefront our minds just as quick as the gifts are unwrapped. What does a making a New Year's resolution mean to you? Do any feelings come up for you?
A New Year's resolution is often connected to our health and wellness. We vow to go to the gym, be mindful of our eating habits, limit our screen time and alcohol consumption. These resolutions, however, have no real goal ascribed to them. It is a passing thought; a hope. What type of accountability is built into our resolutions?
One definition of a resolution is a firm decision to do or not do something. A firm decision is definite and unlikely to change. To make a firm decision, one has to be decisive and not wavier.
Many people are either decisive or indecisive. An indecisive person has trouble choosing an item off of a restaurant menu and often defers their decisions to other people, “oh I don’t care, you decide,” (to then quickly add their input about the very thing they said they did not care about!).
Decision-making skills can be tied to personality type which is connected to the core of a person and their level of self-esteem. In my line of work, I have observed that many indecisive individuals have low self-efficacy and high levels of anxiety. When they are presented with problems or decisions, they often stall, waver, or vacillate until they are forced to make a choice.
When we make a resolution, we are deciding to make a change. We are acting to solve a problem, dispute, or contentious matter. This brings us to the next definition of resolution. Part of making a resolution is solving a problem that currently exists. If we are aware of a problem, we are responsible for making a resolution. One of the existential truths is responsibility.
I am responsible for myself and for the decisions that I make. If I recognize that a change is needed, I need to make a firm decision to do or not do something about it. I can therefore make a resolution.
Resolutions need to represent this line of thinking completely. We cannot just decide that after many months or years of not exercising, that suddenly we will be motivated to go to the gym and workout. We would be setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment. A decision needs to be approached with a clear and focused mind. When we can think clearly and rationally about the expectations we have for ourselves, we have a good chance at being successful. If we hope to be the person who goes to the gym and workouts on a regular basis, we need to start off by setting smaller, attainable, realistic goals. Perhaps getting up 20 minutes early every day and doing sit ups or going for a morning walk. This may be a step in the right direction.
We see advertisements for gym memberships, diet regimens, and apps to help with managing our exercise and food intake. These ads want us to believe that we need to pay for a gym membership or hire a trainer in order for us to reach our goals. This may help initially, but this type of external motivation will not sustain over time. We need to hold ourselves accountable as intrinsic motivation is the only thing that will sustain us towards true change. This goes with another existential truth: freedom. We have the freedom of choice and the freedom to follow through with our resolution. The fact that each individual has the freedom and responsibility to make their own resolution supports the existential truth that we are all alone in our endeavors. We alone must take control of our motivation to help us live a life that is more effective and complete. Freedom and responsibility to follow through with our decisions builds our self-efficacy, which feeds into a cycle of positive intrinsic motivation. We gain a sense of pride when we make the decision to better ourselves which increases our belief that we can follow through on our resolution.
It’s time to make a New Year's resolution.
Art Therapy Activity: Reflecting and looking forward to the new year
Make it a daily goal to live your life with intention and watch how your self-esteem grows. This activity will give you the space to think about how you are living our life and where you want to be. Knowing your goals will help you start the day with intention, focus, and determination. If you can identify your long-term goals, you can then create short-term goals that will help you get to where you want to be.
Download and print the attachment below.
In this activity you will reflect on two things from the past year:
What are you most proud of?
What are your favorite memories?
Then, look forward to the next year and answer the following questions:
What are some things you are looking forward to?
What is something you would like to learn?
In the space provided, write down a motto, affirmation, or quote that inspires you. Refer to this blog for ideas.
When you have completed this activity, put it somewhere visible as a reminder of your resolution and a way for you to stay focused. Remember that when life becomes complicated and things get too busy, that it is solely up to us to get back on track. Life is not about perfection but living with imperfection and working through it.
For more therapeutic activities and resources on how to incorporate Art Therapy into your life, read more from Lynn's Creative Expressions Blog.
Learn more about Art Therapy and Lynn Cukaj, Board Certified Art Therapist here: www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com