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2019 is coming around the corner and it can be an exciting or anxiety provoking thought! Many of us will be reflecting back on good and/or painful memories from this past year and it can definitely set the tone for the upcoming year, especially with New Year’s resolutions. More often than not, I see many of my friends (myself included!) jokingly fail to maintain certain resolutions as early as the end of January! Even if we don’t make a list of specific goals or expectations for the upcoming year, I believe we all go into a new start with some sort of hope or dream in mind. So, for this new year I wanted to share the idea of Value-oriented resolutions instead of Goal-oriented resolutions. Leaning into your values may generate more enduring life-changes for you this upcoming year and help you set a more hopeful tone for this next chapter.

Prioritizing Values over Goals

What is important to you? Freedom, creativity, genuineness, or compassion. Who is important to you? Mother, sibling, children, or friends. What kind of person do you want to be or how do you want to be in your relationships? Affectionate, understanding, open, or independent.

“Values are our heart’s deepest desires for the way we want to interact with and relate

to the world, other people, and ourselves.” – Russ Harris “The Happiness Trap”

Values are not necessarily achievable, instead they are choices of being in the moment. Goals can be crossed off and once you’re done you’re done. There’s nothing else to the goal once it’s finished. We can never “finish” being creative. We can never achieve being empathic. Now there are practical goals in living out your values, but ultimately these goals do not determine how you are being, you determine how you want to be. Achieving these goals are a sign of you being the way you want to be.  

Make note of your values, and lean into them for the upcoming year. Let them be a guide for you rather than strict rules that you have to follow. Values are freely chosen and when you begin to tell yourself “I should…” then you’ll begin to be chained to them.  Achieving goals are helpful in making our values practical, but avoid the thought trap that we “have” to achieve these goals to be who we want to be.

Be Gracious to Yourself

When focusing on values instead of goals, there’s no “failure” or “start over”. Again, pursuing values is a moment to moment rather than achieving a goal over time. If you’re resolution is to be a thoughtful spouse, you can’t necessarily “fail” to be thoughtful and have to work toward being that way again. If you weren’t thoughtful last night when you had that argument, you can still be thoughtful today and reconcile. Don’t give up after a moment of tiredness or stress that lead you to be in a way you didn’t want to be. Your resolution isn’t thrown out the window because of one or even multiple mistakes. There are many hard and painful things that get in the way of who we want to be, so we have to show ourselves grace if we ever want to move on to being different. Take a step back and notice, what made me be in a way I didn’t want to be? Then keep it mind as a common trap of yours for the future as you get back up and continue living out your value.

Who Do You Want To Be In 2019?

While there may be nothing necessarily “new” in your life at the start of the new year, it can be a special time when you take a moment and check-in with yourself. It can be an opportunity to assess what went well, what didn’t go so well, what you can change, or what you can improve. It can be a chance to identify ways you can start moving in the right direction if you’ve been feeling stuck this past year. Don’t get me wrong, setting goals is good for you too! Just try including some value-focused resolutions that can be lived out moment-to-moment! If you find yourself stuck dealing with the problems you’re facing or feeling like you’re just not sure where to go, reach out for help! We sometimes need a strong push for us to start the New Year strong and we eventually find our way!

Written by therapist Daniel Pak

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