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New Year, New You? “Set realistic milestones and celebrate progress” – Occupational therapist.


Johannesburg, South Africa (02 February 2022) – It’s February, which means you might be taking stock of your New Year’s resolutions and how they may be slipping, but we have some tips for staying motivated to continue reaching the goals – or intentions – you’ve set for 2022!

New Year’s resolutions are notoriously difficult to stick to, but with the right perspective and self-acceptance, it is possible to stay motivated and make progress towards our goals. Remaining on track requires perseverance, a healthy dose of adaptability, and the courage to accept oneself, an occupational therapist advises.

“Many of us make New Year’s resolutions, and often within a month or so the initial enthusiasm for self-improvement wears off, and motivation begins to flag, particularly when the end goal still seems far out of our reach,” says Alice Gelderblom Waddilove, an occupational therapist practising at Netcare Akeso Kenilworth mental health facility.

“Too often, people become discouraged when they feel they are not making sufficient progress towards their goals, and this can affect one’s confidence. To keep going, we need to be kind to ourselves while finding workable ways that will help us remain on track without holding ourselves to unrealistic goals. For example, if you are not sporty by nature and set yourself the goal of running a marathon, accept that this may not be achievable all at once.”

Goals should not be seen as a measure of self-worth

Gelderblom Waddilove points out that goals should be regarded as things one hopes to achieve, rather than a rigid measure of achievement that supposedly reflects one’s self-worth.

“You may find it necessary to adapt your goals due to circumstances beyond your control. Rather than abandoning your plans, remain flexible within your goals and find what is workable for you,” she advises.

“Here, the concept of radical acceptance, an aspect of dialectical behavioural therapy [DBT] which involves reflecting on a situation as objectively as possible, can be helpful. DBT may be used alone or in combination with other treatments, either in an inpatient or outpatient setting.

“There is a tendency to be particularly self-critical when we are feeling low. Rather than becoming discouraged, take stock of the situation and reflect on where you find yourself now without judgement,” she suggests.

“Although self-acceptance can be challenging, particularly for those experiencing certain kinds of mental health disorders, try to be fair and compassionate with yourself, focusing on the progress you have made so far towards your resolutions.

Small steps and marking progress

Taking better care of your physical and emotional wellbeing should always be a priority, and the key is to keep making incremental progress, focusing on what the next step is and what is within your control.

Gelderblom Waddilove says it can be helpful to set smaller, more realistic steps that are more manageable as a series of milestones towards your ultimate goal.

“Give yourself credit for completing each of these steps and celebrate the little victories you achieve along the way. If you are coping fairly well with the demands of work within your work-life balance, that in itself is no small feat.”

“Even if we experience setbacks in pursuing our goals, remember that all is not lost. Part of life is to find meaning and a sense of purpose in the journey. The late photojournalist Dan Eldon aptly summed this up: ‘The journey is the destination’. While achieving one’s goals is wonderful, it is also important to have something to strive for, so keep setting new stimulating challenges for yourself,” Gelderblom Waddilove says.

“If we persevere, and rather than throw in the towel, continue with the building blocks towards our ultimate goal, we may find that we end up in a totally different place to the one we initially imagined, which may provide us with a deeper meaning and purpose.”

For support in coping with mental health issues and accessing care, and for professional help in a mental health crisis, Netcare Akeso is here to help. In the event of a psychological crisis, emergency support can be reached on 0861 435 787, 24 hours a day.

Sources: Netcare Akeso 
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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