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New Years Goals... Or Needs!

Like many of you, I have been enjoying many of the memes that are floating around celebrating the end of 2020. It has felt like the year that will never end; and many of us are anticipating that January will feel like the 13th month of 2020, rather than a fresh start. Well, I challenge you to stay focused on the fresh start tradition. It is important for our mental health to maintain a sense of hope, focus, and resilience. One way to do that is to adjust the way we think about goals. I'm challenging everyone reading this to focus on your needs this year, rather than goals.


Historically, folx who have been blessed with melanated skin have not had the luxury or privilege of exploring choices. Options were not in abundance and our ancestors and elders took the opportunities that were afforded to us. We were not taught to actually take time and reflect on what our needs are! So, I will provide some examples.


One common New Years goal is weight loss! Everyone wants to loose weight, especially after many of us have gained the quarantine-15 or the covid-20. But instead of weight loss being a goal, what if our need is to have a healthier relationship with food or with our body? Another popular one is finances! We all need to pay down some debt, but what if our need is to have greater understanding of our impulses, relationships with material, and generational lessons learned about money?


How many of us have relationship goals but we haven't explored our needs? Maybe you need to tell your partner that you need them to schedule a weekly date. Maybe you need to widen the criteria you use to select a partner. Maybe you need to have a hard conversation with your partner about a traditionally uncomfortable topic (e.g., sex, money, co-parenting). Maybe you need to schedule intentional quiet time with yourself and actually identify what your needs are. Or, maybe you need to have a hard conversation and realize that you can be happy moving on rather than staying complacent in the same emotional broken record.


And finally, boundary setting! How many of us need to continue to set more unapologetic boundaries? We are spending more time at home, but it does not mean that we have to always be available. Maybe you need to schedule your personal life prior to your work life. Maybe you need to tell your boss that your availability has changed and you can't take any more calls after hours. Maybe you need to practice communicating with your spouse or child with more love and patience rather than irritation. Or maybe you need to be honest with friends who want to hang out or meet regularly, but you find yourself having different boundaries due to the pandemic.


Maybe of us have several things that we need that we haven't been socialized to identify as such. We have needs in all aspects of our lives and we owe it to ourselves now, more than ever to identify them and practice asking for them. Identifying and asking that our needs be met allows us to build the emotional muscle to then focus on and achieve our goals.


May we all have a blessed, safe, healthy, prosperous New year! May we all give each other grace, including ourselves and set reasonable expectations in the days to come.


~Dr. Jess


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