Choose Self-Compassion this January

Although it is a new year, there is no expectation from a wellness standpoint to “reinvent” yourself this January, despite what many fitness and diet culture ads suggest. Rather, there exists an opportunity to reflect on our past and establish motivation towards our future goals, but with special care for how we value ourselves. I will offer a few strategies for how we can be more compassionate towards ourselves while finding what makes us motivated. 

Before diving into some key strategies for approaching the new year through a lens of self-compassion, I want to acknowledge that goal setting looks different for each and every individual. Our own aspects of identity might impact the way we approach motivation, and the best way to enter a space of true motivation is by honoring our needs. As my mother likes to say, “Comparison is the thief of joy!” – so please consider using this information to look intrinsically instead of through others’ experiences. 

The first area in which we can incorporate self-compassion into our motivation is through self-talk. Often, when we construct goals, we tend to unknowingly speak to ourselves in the form of a harsh “you.” What I mean by this is that we can fall into a habit of using self-deprecating language around achieving our goals, which actually diminishes our motivation in the long-run. 

Let’s consider an example: if I establish that I must meditate for an hour each day, then it is implied that if I do not accomplish what I must do, I have failed. If we replace this narrative with a more compassionate tone, we generate self-talk that honors my goals and the process of achieving them. A new phrase I might use when reflecting on this goal might be “It will bring me peace to try to meditate this week.” 

For goals that revolve around wellness, it is imperative that we give ourselves the grace to do what is best for ourselves in any given moment, paying special attention to what will nourish our mind and body. Another great tool for increasing positive self-talk is using mantras, or spoken affirmations. Again, the key to this aspect of motivation is acknowledging that you, as a human, are worthy of unconditional self-love regardless of the outcome of your goals. 

Secondly, I want to mention a slightly more indirect way of increasing our motivation while remaining kind to ourselves. You know the saying, “You are what you eat?” Scratch that. Sort of. We certainly should pay attention to what fuels our bodies, however. Let’s apply this saying to a broader view. 

We are constantly consuming technology and media more than ever before. We’ve even achieved a point where a newspaper article is not the norm! Accepting this facet of our advanced society, we can still filter what we take in, and especially consider what we don’t take in. Take the time to examine what fills your Instagram feed, which apps sit within your device, and with whom you engage online. 

Apps I find particularly useful when it comes to staying motivated are meditation apps, which allow for periodic affirmations that are customizable. Beyond this, a great way to show kindness towards ourselves regarding our motivation is to step away from media and screens. The chance to unplug can fuel us to invest our energies into our passions and inspire us to try new things. While I focused on digital consumption, this concept applies to any stimuli we take in, such as spoken words, societal messages, and the things we see on a day-to-day basis. Be sure to take a look up, around, down, and all about when considering what to fill your mental space with when achieving goals. 

Finally, the last tip I’ll offer is relatively short, sweet, and easy to comprehend: Let go of being perfect.

I say this bluntly but also meaningfully because I recognize that we have an innate desire to achieve our goals perfectly. Yet, it is not even possible! To achieve something, we must go through the process of arriving at our goal. The word “process” by nature entails multiple steps, forward, back, to the side etc., and allows us to see smaller wins within larger goals. Try breaking down wellness goals you might have into their processes, and understanding the different ways of arriving at the same outcome. And, in case no one’s said it today, we all are perfectly okay to be imperfect, we’ll manage!

Upon reading these ideas, I hope to offer a sense of reassurance as we stride into the new year, a time where motivation can feel daunting. Remember that you are always deserving of self-compassion, regardless of whether you achieve your goals.