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We’ve all spent a lot of time these past few weeks preparing for the lineup of holidays, protecting our space, setting boundaries, celebrating, grieving, testing for COVID, mourning and feeling hopeful despite it all. And you may also be feeling exhausted, tired and burnt out as a result. This is all normal. 

If you are starting out 2022 numb, tired and confused that is completely understandable in the “come down” from the holiday frenzy. You may have also already abandoned some of those well-intentioned resolutions whether it be slowing down and being present or learning a new skill. This does not make you a failure – it makes you a human living in a messy, complicated, beautiful world. 

If you find yourself frustrated that a new year has come and gone but you feel the same – remember real, lasting change does not happen overnight. Habits or a new skill don’t form just because you want them to – it requires intention, practice, time and patience. Here are 3 reflections to consider as we approach the one week mark of 2022: 

  1. Start Small 

Most goals or resolutions fail because they’re too large or grandiose to be reasonably met. A goal may even seem scary or daunting if not properly broken down into smaller, attainable benchmarks. For example, if you want to take up watercolor painting in the year ahead, you don’t need to make the next Mona Lisa tomorrow or be displayed in a gallery by the end of the year – you simply need to pick up a paintbrush. And complete a beginner course. Or read a book on watercolor theory. Start small.

  1. Remove The Pressure 

Part of the pressure of setting goals this time of year is the emphasis we put on a “fresh start” and “becoming our best selves” in the year ahead. It can help to release this pressure by reminding ourselves that we can make resolutions and set goals anytime of the year. There’s no rule that says you can’t commit to journaling in April or learn a new language in November. When you release the pressure to “get it all right” on January 1 you can be more realistic with your expectations and open-minded to what opportunities present themselves at any time of the year. 

  1. Allow Yourself To Be A Beginner 

Often when trying to get the hang of a new habit or learning a new skill we get easily frustrated with ourselves when we’re not instantly “good” at it or an accomplished expert. We must allow ourselves to be beginners again, no matter our age or experience in other aspects of our lives. Even worse, we sometimes avoid trying anything new at all so as not to seem foolish. But some of the most unexpected, best things can be waiting on the other side of that fear. Give yourself grace and patience for trying things outside of your comfort zone and the discomfort that may arise in that process. 

And it’s ok if at the start of this year you’re simply trying to get by and goals or resolutions aren’t at the top of your mind. But if they are, then remember to start small, release the time pressure and allow yourself to be a beginner. Pick up your paintbrush – the world is waiting for your designs. 

By: Maddy Weingast, Assistant for Therapy for Eating Disorders and Body Image