New Year Resolutions
by Erlene Grise-Owens, Ed.D., LCSW, LMFT, MSW, MRE, lead co-editor of The A-to-Z Self-Care Handbook for Social Workers and Other Helping Professionals
2017: Skinny, rich, and happy! Ample evidence documents that New Year’s resolutions can quickly turn into regrets. Here are steps toward successful self-care resolutions, not regrets.
1. Value Reflection. Sequester time to reflect on what YOU want in life. Don’t neglect this active reflection! Too often, we jump in feet first—without essential reflection on where we want to go and how to get there.
Effective change requires internalized value of that change. So, reflect on your values. Mine include: Contentment, Health—oh, and World Peace. These are attainable goals, when I (re)define “success.”
2. Keep it Real. Defining success requires identifying specific steps toward big values and goals. But, keep it Real: What do YOU REALLY want to do?
My doctor recommended that I eat less cheese, to control cholesterol. I adore cheese. The day my doctor dispensed her advice, I got a friend’s holiday gift: a wheel of cheese. The Big Cheese of the Cosmos had spoken. REALLY! I’m eating the cheese. To be healthy, I want to eat vegetables. I adore spinach (con queso, especially!). And, I want to be active. I adore yoga. I will succeed in doing what I adore/value. This “cheese-y” example illustrates that we must reflect honestly about what we really want—and will do.
3. SMARTen small! Next, visualize concrete daily activities and schedules to partialize these big goals into small steps. Frequently, our resolutions are not SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-limited. The A-to-Z Self-Care Handbook for Social Workers and Other Helping Professionals details how to construct a SMART self-care plan. The “K” entry of the Handbook describes the Kaizen method of small steps for big changes. The Lao Tzu mantra, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step,” encapsulates Kaizen. Often, we become overwhelmed by the journey and need incremental steps. If you are “regretting” your self-care resolutions, you probably need SMARTer, smaller steps. Re-define success—in a SMALL way!
My self-care includes my core value of world peace. In the current climate, I felt overwhelmed. So, here is my SMART, Kaizen strategy: “Just One a Day.” My daily work calendar includes taking one action step—e.g., signing a petition, calling a legislator, thanking an advocate, attending a rally.
4. Use Resources. Support and information are essential for self-care success! Engage accountability partners to support self-care. Incorporate accountability measures, such as tracking systems. Use apps, counselors, coaches, colleagues, and personal support systems.
Also, learn about self-care. Certainly, I invite you to use our A-to-Z Handbook, which covers essential elements of self-care. Future blogs will include other resources that I and others find useful and inspiring. Please, let me know of your favorite self-care and wellness resources!
5. Be Resolute. We, all, struggle with self-care. To be “Resolute” means to be persevering and purposeful--not perfect. Embrace resolution as a process and practice, not perfection or even completion. Take steps to be purposeful and persevere in self-care, while gently accepting imperfection.
2017: Be resolute in practice of self care. Resolutions, not regrets!
Peace, Love, & Self-Care, Erlene
Dr. Erlene Grise-Owens, Ed.D., LCSW, LMFT, MSW, MRE is a Partner in The Wellness Group, ETC. This LLC provides evaluation, training, and consultation for organizational wellness and practitioner well-being. Dr. Grise-Owens is lead editor of The A-to-Z Self-Care Handbook for Social Workers and Other Helping Professionals. As a former faculty member and graduate program director, she and a small (but mighty!) group of colleagues implemented an initiative to promote self-care as part of social work education curriculum. Previously, she served in clinical and administrative roles. She has experience with navigating toxicity and dysfunction, up-close and personal! Likewise, as an educator, she saw students enter the field and quickly burn out. As a dedicated social worker, she believes the well-being of practitioners is a matter of social justice and human rights. Thus, she is on a mission to promote self-care and wellness!