Updated 4 minutes 47 seconds ago
Jan 4, 2022
Healthy New Year’s reflections for 2022
During the past two years, many of us may feel like we’ve been living in two parallel universes—balancing between a state of emergency and a state of normalcy.
One minute we’re on high alert, and the next we’re going about our day.
In this whirlwind kind of state, it can be easy to go on autopilot as a way to shelter ourselves from constant change. And it can be difficult to take time for ourselves and take stock of all that has happened and how we’re dealing with it. It can be difficult to make change.
That’s why, as the New Year kicks off, instead of jumping headlong into resolutions, I encourage you to carve out some time — even 10 minutes will work — to stop and ask yourself, “How am I doing, really?”
Take time to reflect
Grab a piece of paper and a pen (better yet, put your phone on silent) and think about some simple questions: What’s working well for me right now? What isn’t? Put another way: What do I want more of in my life? And what do I want less of?
Write down whatever comes to mind, and remember, this isn’t a test—there are no wrong answers, although this isn’t meant to be a wish list of material things.
For example, you might say that you want more energy, more professional fulfillment or more time to spend doing what you love or being with people you care about. On the other hand, you might say you want less stress, less anger and less rushing around.
Chip away at change
Once you have your list, flip your paper over and think about one or two things you want to change in 2022. Put those at the top of the page and think about a small step you could take toward achieving your goal — something you can accomplish in a week or two.
Research shows that people who break goals down into smaller steps are more likely to achieve them than those who don’t.
“It’s best to break down any change you want to make into manageable chunks and keep taking small steps toward your goal so that, little by little, you’re building that muscle for something new,” says my colleague Dr. Greg Harris, a practicing psychiatrist and senior medical director, behavioral health, at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. “Doing something is the key—no matter how small—because it helps us gain momentum, and momentum is a powerful force in achieving our goals.”
Commit to new steps
Then, commit to making the change. Put a meeting in your calendar once a month to check your progress. Or share your goals with a friend. Not only will this keep you accountable, but friends can offer perspective and support and serve as a sounding board to keep you motivated or help you change direction if need be.
Checking in — not out
In addition to checking in on progress toward your goals throughout the year, building in time for self-reflection each day can help you feel more present and centered in an uncertain world.
Ask yourself midday how you’re doing and if there’s one thing you can do to make your day a little easier. Do a short relaxation exercise. Engage more of your senses throughout the day—make a point to smell, taste and enjoy the food you eat. Look around and notice what’s happening when you take your dog for a walk. When you spend time with your family, really listen to what they have to say.
Making time to check in with yourself — on your longer-term goals and even on how you’re doing each day — will help you feel better overall and more prepared to flourish in this new year.
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Nicole Ferraro was interviewed by Rachel Coppola for this column.
Nicole is a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts health engagement strategist as well as a certified health and wellness coach and a registered yoga teacher. Have a question about wellness that you would like us to address in a column? Contact us here!