Juliana Ochoa, MA, LMHC
A Fresh Start
January 1st sounds like a good date to mark the beginning of New Me. We recognize this date as an important day, and it makes sense– Goodbye Last Year, Hello New Year! Out with the old, in with the new. This is not a bad thing; in fact, it is kind of refreshing to feel we can have a clean slate. It is interesting to realize that if one of your goals for the new year is to eat healthy, incorporate some type of exercise into your lifestyle, finally consider the possibility that maybe self-care is not a buzzword but is necessary for your overall wellbeing, etc, etc, chances are, you probably wished for those same things on December 31st. So January 1st is not really that arbitrary; it actually makes perfect sense that our brains can create a division between Old Me and New Me, and that we want for that to happen, because it serves as a catalyst for change. We set intentions and we have goals, and we want to be more of this, less of that– in essence, the beginning of a year allows for us to have an opportunity for self-reflection.
In my work, I encourage clients who are looking for change to think of moving forward toward a new way of thinking, feeling, or being, in terms of affirmations and intentions. While there are things about ourselves we might wish to improve and things that might hold us back, it is important that we recognize we have positive qualities that have given us the strength to walk the path we have so far. So the process looks something like this: I like this about myself and so this stays (affirmation), but I would like to incorporate some of this (intention) and so I will try it on to see if it fits. What we are talking about is really forming different habits, hopefully healthier ones. For most people, this is what New Year Resolutions welcome into their lives – the possibility of trying something different.
The really neat thing about setting goals, intentions, resolutions, whatever you might want to call them, is that this January 1st date is a mind trick that you can learn to recreate at any time. The key to feeling an Old Me/New Me distinction is to create a defining moment that separates the two. We have the start of a new year, but we also have the start of a new month, start of a new week, and even the start of a new day. Wharton professor Katherine Milkman calls our ability to think in terms of having a clean slate, the “fresh start effect.” So if you missed the January 1st boat, Monday is a few days away 😉
If you feel you want a “fresh start” and would like some help in setting new goals and intentions, it might be helpful to talk it through with one of our skilled counselors at Life Skills Resource Group. Please call us at 407-355-7378 to schedule a free phone consultation.