How’s that ‘New You’ working out? Self-acceptance and setting healthy goals

Out with the old, in with the new! That’s what they say around December / January every year, isn’t it?

But now, in the cold light of the new year, as perhaps our motivation starts to wane, maybe it’s time to take a look at why we choose our goals and what we can do to really help achieve them.

So often, we look around and feel our lives would be improved if only we could achieve some (often) random goal. Lose weight? Get a new job? Become fluent in German? So many things we are ‘supposed’ to do to improve ourselves, so many things that if only we could master them would make our lives so much better.

There’s an old saying: No matter where you go, there you are. I like to think that it means regardless of what you do or where you go, you will still always be yourself. So if you are going to be your own most constant companion, doesn’t it make sense to know, accept and make sensible choices for yourself?

Unconditional self-acceptance: a revolutionary resolution

An incredibly useful thing you can do to make the coming year and beyond more fruitful and emotionally well-balanced it to understand and begin to practice unconditional self-acceptance.

We’ve written about self-acceptance before, and it’s such a useful thing to learn for everyone. Accepting ourselves for who we truly are, both good and bad, can be the key to identifying and making improvements that really matter, rather than what we think we ‘should’ make.

Just because Instagram or the latest magazines tell us we should be stick thin and be earning huge amounts of money, if we know and understand and accept who we are, we might see that these things are not so important to us. Or that if we really do want to make changes, we can accept that are starting from a place not of failure, shame or envy, but from one of acceptance and a desire to change for all the right reasons.

Motivation is key to maintaining change, and coming from a positive place (I would like to lose weight / get a new job / speak German, but understand I don’t have to, and if I don’t achieve this straight away that doesn’t mean I’m a failure), will be much more useful than berating oneself as no good and a let-down right from the start. That will only lead to resentment, low frustration tolerance (I can’t stand this!) and ultimately avoidance / giving up.

Whose goals?

Once we begin to accept ourselves for who we really are, the good, bad and indifferent, we can then start to make healthier, more rational choices about what we want to achieve.

Are we trying to achieve something for ourselves, or to please others? Are we doing something because we really want to, or because we feel we ‘should’? Interrogate your motivations and make sure your plans really are going to deliver what you really want. You might already feel good about how you look, what you earn and what languages you can speak!

And if you do decide to go ahead and achieve something new, that’s great too. To help you get started, we have a whole series of blogs on confidence and success, covering everything from setting goals to making plans and seeing them through.

And we’ve even got you covered for when things go wrong: Why accepting you might fail won’t make you a failure.

So remember, as the New Year becomes slightly less new: change is possible, change is good, but change is very seldom compulsory!

Nick Jones
REBT / CBT Therapist

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