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Happy New Year – Why you need to dream big this year

Mindfulness. It was last year’s buzz word in pop psychology. Mindfulness was about being present, meditating, and focused on managing your emotions. It was the topic de jour among self-help circles. For those of you who don’t go to yoga or read Psychology Today, mindfulness is about living in the moment. The Coles notes version says that “by focusing on your breathing you can stay present and not let your brain lead you down the path of negative self-talk. You can get behind the waterfall of emotion” Respond to life rather than react. It’s really about self-awareness of managing your own mood and being a grownup.

I describe mindfulness as focusing on living an intended life- not simply running in place every day. The New Year is often a time to reflect on what you want for your life. More than resolutions, it’s the focus on goals, dreams and values (either alone or with a partner). The New Year is a great time to evaluate where we stand, how life is going, where we want to be, and what we want to achieve in the year(s) to come. We know we’ll never match the perfect, ideal image we have in mind for ourselves, but we try to improve—eat less meat, less sugar, walk more, go to the gym, spend more time with our family and friends, read more, and spend less time on our phones.

I push clients to focus on dreams- rather than on areas where they have failed year after year. We don’t want to keep beating ourselves up or repeating the message that we aren’t cutting it. If your resolutions aren’t goals they don’t motivate you for long. And then we feel diminished for not meeting them. Leadership coach Madhu says that “The tradition of New Year’s resolutions simply normalizes and perpetuates this misguided thinking”.

Instead, focus on gratitude- all the amazing things you have in your life, and pick one big picture item that lights you up. It’s about finding your passion or something you want to do that actually inspires you. Last year for Blaik and I it was about building community. We launched the Ducklings (www.wearetheducklings.com) and we are making more friends than either of us ever imagined. For some people it’s learning to dance, speak Spanish, be an amazing parent or grandparent or simply having way, way more fun in 2016. You are far, far more likely to achieve goals when they are framed as dreams rather than a resolution involving something you feel inadequate and guilty about.

As a sex and relationship therapist I constantly pitch finding and living a life of intimate connections. I really believe that the quality of your life is the quality of your relationships. It could be my bumper sticker. That phrase along with; “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone”, and “dream big” is my wish for everyone for 2016.

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