There always seems to be debate about New Year’s resolutions and their value. Although there may be a spark of hope and possibility, often resolutions are tainted with the memory of “failed” past attempts or feelings of inadequacy.
And so, some may feel the solution is to swear off resolutions altogether, unaware that the driving factor is to avoid feeling disappointed in yourself.
This year I propose a different approach. Instead of outlining what you want to achieve, what if we framed it as who you want to become?
There is a key difference between achieving and becoming. Achieving has an end point, an endpoint that we can revert back from, often fairly easily. Becoming, however, implies an identity shift, a process, and maybe a gentler approach.
Think about the things you have become in your life. There may be some overlay with achievement but look at it through the lens of who you are. I will give you some examples.
I became a nurse. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t quick. There was no way to do it faster than it was going to take. There were days I procrastinated and days that I nailed it. There were days that I cried and days that I felt great. It took 4 years to get my undergraduate degree. As a graduate, it took a solid year to feel competent on the med-surg/ortho floor that I started on.
I became a homeowner. Sure, technically this happened with one document requiring 100 initials and signatures but the true identity of becoming a homeowner took much longer. I had to learn how to anticipate the expenses of a home (I learned that the hard way). I had to learn the ins and outs of refinancing when the rates changed. I had to learn how to plan my time to manage the yard work and the home repairs. I had to vote in the town elections regarding budgeting and taxes. I might need a refresher on caulking, my attempt this morning didn’t go as well as everyone on tik tok said it would.
I became a mom…let’s just leave that there.
I became an NP. I became the person who couldn’t wait until the last minute to study since that guaranteed both children would be vomiting all night. I had to become a beginner learner again. I had to create a new NP role in a pain practice.
I have become a business owner, a coach, an educator. I could keep going but you don’t all need my CV. The point is, these things are not just achievements, they are part of who I am. It took time to become these things, as well as some drudgery and commitment.
It’s not one and done.
And so, let’s go back to resolutions. Who do you want to become? And when I say this, it is important to know you are starting from a place that is already whole and complete. You could become the person who is content being exactly where you are.
There may be multiple things that come up for you.
I want to become the person who exercises regularly and without a lot of drama.
I want to become the person who eats in a way that makes my body feel great.
I want to become the person who is less affected by what other people think of me.
You get the idea.
Now HERE IS THE IMPORTANT PART.
Pick one thing. Yes, just one.
Think about the future version of yourself who has become that person (or if that seems tricky, just think about someone who is already there).
How do you imagine they think?
How is the person thinking who eats in a way that makes their body feel great? (Yes, you get to make it up. Trust yourself on this one.)
I imagine they think getting enough protein is an easy way to feel good. I imagine they have a target number of grams per day that they get fairly routinely. I imagine that early on, they probably had to track their protein until they got into a habit of eating the foods that got them to their daily target,
So this month I am going to work on becoming the person who aims for 100 gm of protein a day. That’s it. I am going to spend a little time up front figuring out how to best become this and then just go for it.
There may be days that I get 5 gms and days I get 110 gms but I am going to work on becoming the person for which 100gms is a habit.
I’m not worrying about water intake (actually, I already have that down). I am not worrying about fat or calories. Maybe I will spend 2 or 3 months becoming a protein person. And then, I can ask what the person that I’m becoming would do next.
And move the needle forward.
Without thinking that a “bad day” means anything about my identity or success.
I’m going to try and extend myself the same compassion that I extend my patients when they are trying to make small but meaningful changes in their identity. I am not going to expect or even shoot for perfection. It’s ok if it takes a year or longer because that’s what becoming looks like.
Who do you want to become? You have become a lot of things already so it’s a skill set you have. Why do you want to become that person? What will it mean for you?
What does that person think? How do they act?
Pick one thing. Become the person who does it more often than not. Then, if you want, add on the next thing.
Either way, you are good as the person you are now or the person you are then. None of this changes your value.
Happy New Year, I’m glad you are the same you.
Do you think your work team would benefit from some of these positive strategies? Reach out if you would like to hear about setting up a workshop to target the individual needs of your organization. Email me at Megan@NursingBeyondtheJob.com . Let's build up a better system with a grassroots effort.