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By Dominic Landini, L.M.S.W.

As the new year is upon us, this can be a great time to kickstart a new routine, health goal or mindset for the upcoming year. 

It is also a good occasion to reflect on what we have accomplished throughout the year and any goals that haven’t been achieved. But when looking ahead to the New Year, people can sometimes feel pressured to make big sweeping changes or accomplish unattainable goals. This can create an overwhelming/negative experience. 

As a clinician who is passionate about growth, there are skills that I teach clients and use in my personal life. It all starts by identifying healthy thinking and challenging negative self-talk, which can be an overwhelming process. So here are some specific tips to help create your new goals and changed mindset for the New Year. 

Self-Talk: First, let’s define self-talk.. Self-talk is the inner monologue that happens in our head all day everyday. It may look different between people but we all have it. Some might be more aware of these thoughts than others. 

These thoughts significantly impact our emotions that come throughout the day and lead to people having different emotions toward similar situations. This can be a great place to start when talking about mindset. We cannot control our automatic thoughts, but we can challenge them. Sustained challenging to a more positive self-talk can really make big changes in how you feel everyday. 

Positive affirmations: A way to start changing our self-talk is positive affirmations. This can be difficult when our automatic thoughts bring us in a negative direction. I recommend having a routine with it to take away some of the challenges. 

A good routine to change our mindset could be to add a positive affirmation to some of our daily routines or structures that are already in place. For example, try reminding yourself of a strength that you have while brushing your teeth in the morning. Tell yourself it is going to be a great day, or just talk back to your worries by saying “I can meet my goals for today even if it may be hard”. Even if you don’t believe it now, it will start to change the way your brain approaches the day and help you start off on the right foot. 

Routine and Consistency: Another important piece to any sustainable change is the idea of routine and consistency. I know everyone has made a lofty New Years resolution at some point in their life. You make a great goal for yourself and are doing amazing for two weeks, but then you hit a wall. Things start coming back to where they were and you might find yourself disheartened about the motivation you are giving. 

A thought that I use in my clinical work and personal life is that change is extremely hard. This is especially true if you are changing something that you have been doing for a long time. Motivation comes and goes. This is all very normal. 

So how do we get the change we want? Through routine and consistency. It is much more valuable to make small achievable goals that you can put into a routine rather than rely on motivation. That motivation burst is great but we want to make sustainable changes for the future. 

So pick something small like giving yourself positive affirmations once a day, or a realistic goal like exercising a couple times per week instead of a big change like working out everyday when you haven’t been to the gym in a year. Then we build as time goes on to get to your eventual goal. 

Forgiveness and Patience: Finally, forgiveness and acceptance in of itself can be your new mindset for the year. Progress is not linear. Motivation comes and goes. Reflection can be great, but often we get too carried away and it turns into a negative process about what we did not accomplish. 

Change is hard. Having a mindset of forgiving yourself for any hiccups in the road and being patient with your eventual goal will yield great results. You may not get there exactly when you expected. But if you keep attempting to change your self-talk, create a new routine, eat healthier (or whatever you decide for the New Year), you will make it. Keep after it and be kind to your brain because you are doing a wonderful job. 

If you still feel like you aren’t sure how to best support your child, teen or young adult. Child and Family Solutions Center is here to help. Please call us at 248-851-5437 to get  started with therapy services.