January 3, 2019

Resolutions: Planning From Your Strengths

Mental Health & Wellbeing

The year 2018 has just closed. Many that I’ve spoken to were ready to have this year come to an end.  Death, loss of employment, being in your first year of a business, experiencing the 1st year as a parent or in your marriage, transitioning from college into the “real world,” changes in income, or challenges with emotional or physical well being can leave us feeling depleted and ready for a new beginning.  We anticipate a new season in hopeful expectation that THIS will be the year that we: find the “one,” or are going to learn how to (fill in the blank), or maybe going to say “yes” to new challenges. While I think it’s helpful and even necessary to set new goals for ourselves, it’s important to do so not from a place of reflecting on one’s deficits, but from a place of one’s strengths.

Strengths Based Approach

From a strengths based and motivational interviewing lens, individuals are more likely to achieve their goals if they first reflect upon what they were able to accomplish.  In addition, it can be helpful to reflect on the parts of goals you were able to achieve as there are often many steps to reach a goal. Sometimes, we make the mistake of setting a goal that is too lofty or we weren’t really ready to work towards that goal. Sometimes our priorities shift and that goal is no longer as important as when we set it.  All of this is common and ok. My hope is that we can prepare for 2019 with hope filled anticipation for who we are now and how we will transform because of that.

Reflecting on the Year

So, here are a few questions to consider as you reflect upon your achievements (big and small) for the year:

  • How have your friendships been?
  • What are some new skill or hobby that you have learned this year?
  • What is something that you stopped doing?
  • What is 1 new experience that you had?
  • How satisfied are you in your relationships with your family and/or significant others?  
  • Did your income or status in life change?
  • Any awards that you received?
  • What are some fears, doubts, or overwhelming emotions that you have experienced?  What have you done to learn more about yourself and how to manage them?
  • Did you start to attend a new spiritual community?
  • Did you integrate any new spiritual practices this year?  Were they helpful to you? If so, how?
  • Were you able to decrease the frequency of a habit that was harmful?
  • What were some roadblocks that you faced this year?  What are some steps that you took to confront them?
  • Did you do anything to improve your physical health?

Creating Space to Process

It’s ok if it takes a bit to answer these questions.  There is so much that can happen in a year that it likely will take some time to reflect. I encourage you though to use time either to review on your own or possibly consider doing this exercise with another person.  Once you’ve done this, make sure to take a moment to express gratitude for all that you have been able to achieve. Positive thoughts can give you hope and motivation for your future. Reviewing the past year and taking stock of how you grew, in both strengths displayed and personal achievements, is the important inventory to build your new goals upon.

If you struggle with identifying positive aspects of this past year or within yourself, therapy might be a great space for you. I’d be happy to collaborate with you if this area is something you’re considering support around. Together we can review your strengths and work to set goals for the future.


Written by therapist Pamela Larkin


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