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New Year’s Resolutions – Podcast

By LifeStance Health on January 4, 2022

Happy New Year! LifeStance providers Angel Kramer and Nicholette Leanza help ring in 2022 with an episode on New Year Resolutions, how to gently set goals and accumulating joy.

New Year’s Resolutions

[00:00:00] Happy New Year, everyone. And welcome to Convos from the Couch by LifeStance Health. I’m Nikki Leanza and I’m thrilled to talk to Angel Kramer today on New Year’s resolutions. Jewel. It’s great to have you on again. Yeah. Thanks for having me back. And did you know that the tradition of making new year’s resolutions dates back to over 4,000 years to the ancient Babylonians?

Yes. You know, I believe that because the new year is just such a natural starting point for goal setting and making positive changes, that it makes sense that even 4,000 years ago, people were like, this is a good time to do that. Right. I agree, which I think is a good time to jump in.

So why is it important do you think for people to make goals or new year’s resolutions? Yeah. So going back 4,000 [00:01:00] years, it just seems to be a natural thing for many of us to do. The new year, like I said, is a natural starting point for something kind of like how, when we try to start something new, we almost always want to start on a Monday.

True. It’s just the natural starting point. And that new year gives us an opportunity for self-reflection and to look back on things that maybe didn’t bring us as much joy or satisfaction or on the other end of the spectrum. Maybe we’re a little too hard on ourselves about that’s a big one, so we can start to self actualize and set goals to reach that ideal version of ourselves.

Yeah, I agree. A hundred percent. And so I love the fact that you said that best version of ourselves, because I think that’s our intent when we’re starting off the new year of like, I want to be better as a person. I want to do this, or this will be the thing that makes me happy. But we also know it’s hard to stick to these resolutions.

And so you’re looking at, you know, why do you think it’s so [00:02:00] hard for us to stick to these resolutions or just wanting to be a better person, even, right. You know, when we put it out there, it seems, and sounds like it would be such an easy task. You know, X, Y, and Z is going to get me to this person. I want to be, let’s do it, but sometimes let’s do it means we’re starting out overzealous we’re over-committing and we are just jumping head first into the deep end of the pool.

And it is hard to maintain the momentum of it. We’re all jumping, jumping into that deep end then, right. That motivation, that energy, that committed. It’s hard to keep up with that. And that makes it a little easier for us to kind of start to cut back. No, on average, most people have stopped working towards their new year’s resolution.

Somewhere between the third week in January. And like the second week of February, [00:03:00] it’s that soon for most people, because we set these lofty goals. You know, I am only going to drink water this year. I am going to lose 60 pounds. I am going to go to the gym every day, before work for an hour. That’s a lot to take on, especially if you’re not a water drinker, especially if there are other compounding issues regarding the body that you’re in, or if you’re not a morning person.

Yeah. So having all those factors are kind of working against us. Yeah. Yeah. That is already working against you. So that’s gonna definitely decrease the chance for you to keep it going and started working against you. So, [00:04:00] so then we have to work on keeping our motivation up. We have to work on how do we get to the maintenance stage a change.

So tell me more about that. So how do we get to that stage to change? I think part of that is making sure that we’re setting goals that are attainable, making sure we setting goals that we can reach that are doable. Now that’s not to say we shouldn’t be challenging ourselves, but our goals might need to be gentle goals rather than those over the top sweeping changes.

And a gentle goal might be adding something to your routine rather than taking it away. If we want to eat healthier this year, maybe let’s add an extra vegetable to our dinner. Rather than taking out all sweets across the board. Good point. Is it, it’s often what people do. Like I’m not going to get any sugar.

And so what you’re recommending is like, oh, hold [00:05:00] on. You know, it’s kind of meeting more in the middle of like, let’s add something more. Let’s add to it, something healthy. I like that. Yeah. And that makes it a little easier for us to maintain longterm and the more healthier decisions we make, the more likely we are to make that next healthy decision.

And, you know, having gentle goals kind of takes the pressure off. It takes the pressure off of reaching this goal. That’s way up here and maybe being okay with just meeting the goal right here in the middle. And that helps us get to maintenance a little bit. All helpful suggestions. I liked that idea of the gentle goal, right?

I think, again, people get this mindset of, I have to do this and I should be able to do this and it’s that hard goal. And then they do lose their motivation and then they can even maybe startle themselves down where they’re just their inner critic is really coming out and they’re beating themselves up.

[00:06:00] So having that gentle goal is I think really the key and it, especially with, like you said, for motivation, for sure. Yeah. Some suggestions for new year’s resolutions. Like if someone’s trying to lose weight, what that would look like or for something else. Yeah. So from my perspective, it tends to be easier when we set goals that are in line with our values, because then we can set goals that show our value a little bit more and it’s not a  goal that is demeaning or diminishing or asking us to take up less space. It is if you value family, maybe that goal is to leave work by five, three days of five of the week,

Because then you’re more likely to be like, you know what, I’m leaving work to be with my family. And that’s important. [00:07:00] And what I also hear you saying with that is you’re, you’re putting that out there three out of five days. It’s you’re showing your value. That is important. I think the next step to that too, is maybe even at work and setting the boundary that enables you to do that as well.

Exactly. And then there are such steps that we have to take to reach that goal, and we’re doing it for a reason that is important to us. Another part of it is making sure that we have that social support in place. Making changes. Part of the community can be so much easier than doing it on our own. I don’t think and look at it that way.

I think that’s a good point if we just take it on, this is my thing to do and there, but to open it up to the support, that’s a really great idea too lately, because that helps not only help us keep ourselves more accountable because now we’ve told someone about it. So we feel a little bit more beholden to keep up with.

But also they’re there to be kind of cheerleaders and help us through rough [00:08:00] patches and maybe help us out when we’re shooting ourselves a little too much, I should be doing this. I shouldn’t be doing this and they can kind of help us be a little nicer. In this process to ourselves because we can be mean to ourselves and self-compassion is so key and people, I don’t think recognize that.

I always say to my own clients, if you wouldn’t say to your friend or even your pet, you know, don’t say it to yourself. I think that self-compassion is so key there, especially with resolutions or goals and things, you know, one of the things that. We had talked about after, or a holiday stress episode, which you gave such amazing tips and tricks for that.

After that we had a conversation about a community accumulating joy, and you had to be so intrigued by what that was. And so I, I definitely think this is a topic as you’re sharing with me that, [00:09:00] so it was in very well to this new year’s resolution topic here. And so can you tell me more about accumulating joy.

Absolutely. And I agree. I think it ties in very well to a new year’s resolution that can be part of a gentle goal that we set for ourselves. It can help us change our routine, our patterns, but accumulating joy comes from a DVT concept of accumulating positive emotions or building positive emotions.

Only the joy part of it takes it a slightly different direction. When I use this concept with my clients. Many of them are seeking happiness. They want to be happy, which is such a term, and it can feel so unattainable. And so unmaintainable because life is about balance and that is balancing our emotions as well.

We are going to [00:10:00] have sad days. We’re going to have sad times. We’re going to have days where we feel angry or things are going to trigger us to be angry, and those kinds of emotions are going to come up. So the idea of just getting rid of them, it’s kind of unattainable. So cumulating joy is more about creating moments and building moments of.

Satisfaction or even simply okayness and being able to recognize that we are okay. I like definitely jump on that term. Just being okay. Again, people are striving for a happiness of that Zen place all the time. Sometimes it is just about just I’m. Okay. I’m okay right now in this moment. And I loving that.

Yeah. And sometimes we find happiness in moments, not [00:11:00] an overarching. I am happy all the time. Positive psychology all the time, right? It is right now, I’m really enjoying what’s happening. And it is okay to enjoy this. When I had these hundred other reasons behind me to be worried or to be angry or frustrated or irritable, I can still enjoy and have joy in this moment.

And that can look different for a lot of people. Yeah. What brings me joy and helps me accumulate joy might look vastly different from what helps you accumulate joy. I think one of the things I shared with you after our last episode was what brings me joy is playing music. I feel like I play many instruments, but none of them very well, but I did share how in my home we celebrate Christmas.

So for me, just playing the piano or playing my trumpet or playing you name it, I have a lap heart. If I [00:12:00] can keep going with my instruments, but that, those are the moments that you bring me joy. And so I think it is very important for people to recognize what is it about. Then that brings them joy. And may I ask that of you?

What, what are some things that bring you joy? Yeah. So first I’m going to spin it back to you for a second, because part of that accumulating joy is allowing yourself to enjoy what’s happening without that addendum that I don’t do it well, that’s a good point that you were right to call me on next. That would be something I would call my own science.

Aren’t you? So that’s a good point. And for so many of us, that’s a natural progression in our thoughts. And part of accumulating joy is letting go of that. Very true. To take it back to your question of me. Yeah. I accumulate joy in several ways. The first one that comes to mind is things that are creative.

I’m naturally a creative person. So giving myself that space and a little bit of time every day to do [00:13:00] something that’s. Whether it’s a doodle in my sketchbook, whether it’s getting on Pinterest and finding a new idea for something to make, or even spreading my creativity to cook, I wonder what these ingredients would taste like together.

Let’s try it. So if it turns out well, or if it doesn’t, there’s no judgment, like I tried it, I tried it.

And those moments of accumulating. It can be as simple as giving yourself time and space to drink your cup of coffee in the morning. It could be stepping out on your front porch and just getting a couple of minutes outside of fresh air. Taking your dog for a walk. It could be gardening. It could be taking up a new hobby, learning something and allowing yourself to learn it without judgment, without being too hard on yourself in the learning process, it can go a long way.[00:14:00]

That it can, again, emphasizing that self-compassion and we saw like I play instruments and not very well, like there, I am doing it to myself. So I think another part with that is that we do it even unconsciously. So I think navigating it of like, I’m not going to judge myself, I’m just going to do this. And if I just want to, if I just feel like dancing right now, I’m at Walmart and I liked the song that’s on.

I’m just gonna dance. Yeah. Space to wiggle a little bit without judgment, without judgment for shots. And that’s part of just progress and practice as well. Being mindful of what brings us joy, but also being unmindful, meaning letting go of that negative self-talk of that inner critic. Or letting go of all of that worry or irritation that is blocking us from experiencing joy in that moment. Unmindful. So I like that [00:15:00] your point. I don’t know if you’re appointing that terms if that’s coming from you or if you’ve heard that. But I love that. I think we, I think we joked in our last episode about the, that term mindfulness, but being unmindful, what a different shift.

And you tell that again, what that means being online. So we hear about mindfulness, all of the time. It seems to be that buzzword. We joked about it in the last episode, but the opposite of that, because balance is all around us is being unmindful and exactly, as it entails, it is practicing letting go of letting go of some of that awareness of the things that create discomfort for us.

Letting go of that worry, letting go of that frustration. And sometimes that might be checking in and be like, what’s this going to mean to me in five minutes? What’s this going to mean to me tomorrow? [00:16:00] If the answer is nada, we can be unmindful of it. Otherwise it is just going to keep cluttering our brain and we are going to practice mindfulness towards the wrong thing.

And then it becomes maladaptive. Yeah. Excellent point for sure. As we wind down our time together and you should so many great ideas here, use resolutions and just accumulating joy, just a few other, just take away so that you wouldn’t recommend for our listeners. I think some of the highlights and the takeaways would be making sure we’re checking in with ourselves.

Yeah. If this goal attainable for us, is this measurable. Do we know when we’ve achieved it and challenging that inner critic a little bit and letting go of that? Should or will I do this, [00:17:00] but I’m not very good at it. Or, you know, society is telling me I need to do that. Doing it for our values and for our self actualization can help set up that framework and foundation to be a little bit more successful in our new year’s resolutions.Oh my gosh. Thank you again, Angel, for sharing your knowledge on this topic. And of course I wish you a happy new year and your family as well. Take care.