Personal Injury, Social Security Disability, and Workers’ Compensation
The Psychology of a Fresh Start How to Make This Year Better Than the Last
J anuary is one of my favorite times of the year because I get to reflect honestly on the last twelve months. I like to evaluate my different roles, such as husband, father, attorney, business owner, friend, and more. This allows me to consider the most important areas of my life and ask myself: How can I do better this year? I then create a plan and a system for how I can achieve the specific areas of improvement I desire. Each new year offers people something truly great: the feeling of a fresh start. As you count down to midnight on the eve of 2019, you’ll likely get a burst of motivation, the urge to set resolutions to better yourself, and a desire to change your perspective. While of all of this is great, the unfortunate downside of the new year is its fleeting nature, especially when it comes to aspirations. In fact, studies show that 80 percent of resolutions fail by the second week of February. The reason for this statistic is that people are setting arbitrary goals without creating realistic processes to achieve them. They might say: I want to be healthier, I want to be better at my job, I want to be a better husband or wife, or I want to be a better parent, but they fail to plan for the implementation of those goals. In short, they have their “what and why,” but they are missing their “how.” I think it’s great to set goals for yourself, but if you don’t have a system to achieve them, failure is essentially inevitable. I read a great book titled, “Atomic Habits,” wherein the author, James Clear, expands on this idea that the most important aspect of goal setting isn’t setting the goal itself but setting up a system to achieve the goal. He offers the suggestion of trying to improve one percent each day. Just one percent daily improvement can have dramatic impacts over
time, much like compounding interest. This means, you have to take your overarching arbitrary goal and attach smaller, more pragmatic goals to meet daily. In my own life, for example, I want to continually strive to be a better father to my kids. How do I get there? I can’t just wake up each day and remind myself of the goal. That won’t accomplish anything. Instead, I have to aim for the one percent daily improvement — make a plan to read a book with them at least once a week or ensure that I put my work away when I get home so I have time to play a game. With these smaller, more manageable tasks, my desire to be a better parent becomes a reality. I get to relish in the small victories along the way rather than chastising myself for yet another failed resolution. This concept can be applied by anyone. I recently worked with a client who sustained multiple catastrophic injuries in an automobile accident last year. Even a year later, lingering pain keeps her from doing even basic things like being able to clap at her son’s basketball games. Her inability to
support him in the way she wants to makes her feel discouraged as a parent. Fighting back tears, she said, “I just want to feel better and get my life back.” To help her accomplish this goal, we changed her focus from the long recovery process, and instead created a plan using smaller, short term tasks designed to be building blocks towards her ultimate goals. This felt much less overwhelming for her and created a sense of success for her each day. Regardless of whether 2018 was a great year, a terrible year, or something in between, take some time this month to relish in the opportunity for a fresh start. Start by evaluating the good and the bad aspects of the previous year, come up with goals to help you become better in the areas that are most important to you, and lastly, create some smaller, manageable, daily tasks to help you realistically accomplish them. Let’s make 2019 better than 2018! Happy New Year!
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