Hood Article

Self Regard

What I absolutely love about January is the sense of new beginnings, and the notion of the resolution is a big part of that. We all make them, don’t we? After many days of gin-induced frivolity and chocolate comas this is definitely going to be the year we: lose weight; nail down that promotion; give up our every nasty habit. It’s the notion of turning ourselves into something else. Much of our over-indulgence comes backed by the promise (the excuse?) that we’ll all be a much better “me” in the new year.

But what if the December you was amazing enough already? What if you need no major life overhaul? I mean, there’s nothing wrong with ambition. Keeping in mind that, according to Forbes, only eight per cent of New Year’s resolutions actually work, perhaps it’s time to take a new approach to this New Year malarkey?

My suggestion? How about, rather than give things up or restrict ourselves, we make a resolution to celebrate our achievements and focus on what makes us amazing right now?

So what’s the answer?

In coaching, we often ask clients to list their top ten achievements. What are they proud of? Are there any memorable achievements that make them smile inside when they recall them? Thinking this way can help shift the focus from the disappointment of a failed goal, of endless unaccomplished ‘to do’ lists and instead enables a change in attitude that promotes confidence and an ability to tackle the change that coaching will bring.

At the top of my list, clearly, are my kids and my marriage. After all, we all know the challenges being a mother and wife can bring – just making it to the end of some days can feel like a real achievement. I do wonder if I can fairly claim stopping smoking as one of my top ten given I achieved it 18 years ago. But, hey, listing ten achievements can feel a lot, so it’s staying right in there.

In truth, celebrating our own successes is uncomfortable and can make us feel very exposed. We need to ask where this is coming from. Personally, I think many of us were raised to not be boastful, but this has led to us being a generation of women who find it too difficult to articulate our strengths. It’s so much easier to focus instead on what we don’t do well.

How should I fix it?

Sure, taking out a billboard to announce your amazing achievements would be a step too far. We ought to be able to internally recognise what makes us admirable and to be able to talk openly with close friends and family about the aspects of ourselves that we are pleased about.

We should be able to say: “I am not perfect, but I am proud of me and I am over the moon that I achieved X, Y or Z because I, and no one else, did a lot of work to get there” that would be a great start.

Want to get there?

  • Put aside any awkwardness you feel about putting yourself first.
  • What common themes do you see running through your thoughts when you do this?
  • Spend ten minutes remembering how great you are, because when you embrace your own successes, it’s easier to encourage others to do so too.
  • Are there themes to your achievements that jump out at you?
  • What sort of feelings are created when you think this way?

Imagine if the only ‘resolution’ you made this year was to embrace and replicate that feeling all year long, to use it to check in with any changes you want to make going forward…

When I stopped smoking I felt immensely proud. I fall back on this feeling at times when I know the road ahead could be rocky, because the desire to be proud is greater than any fear could be. Similarly, think about the way you set goals. If we commit to ‘lose’ something, our brain associates it with a negative – what do you want to gain?