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  • Writer's pictureDr. Heather Violante, PsyD

5 Tips to Find Balance Between Motivation and Self-Forgiveness

At the beginning of every year, we make new year’s resolutions to become better versions of ourselves. To eat healthier, exercise more, get that new job, or be more productive. And every year we might find ourselves not meeting those high and unreachable expectations. Even though we plan for the opposite, setting goals that are too high can lead to burnout, discouragement, anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem. It’s important to strike a balance between finding motivation and allowing time for rest and self-care. Here are some tips on how to find that balance without feeling guilty.

1. Set Realistic Expectations

Just because it’s 2021, doesn’t mean that everything we struggled with in 2020 has magically disappeared. Make your New Year’s resolutions (and it’s not too late) based on what you accomplished in 2020. Don’t try to outdo what you accomplished in previous years - we’re still recovering from last year. It’s OK to set the bar lower at a more reasonable level or adjust your goals. As long as you keep moving forward it’s OK - don’t expect that you have to reach the finish line.

2. Reflect on Gratitude

It’s important to not spend too much time focusing on negative things. What are you grateful for each day? They can be small things, such as “I’m grateful I made it this far,” or “I’m grateful for finding ways to cope during quarantine,” or “I’m grateful that I was able to get out of bed this morning.” We can all agree 2020 was a challenging year, but remember to notice the good things around you and the people in your life, even if you can physically touch them. Reflect on what good came out of 2020. Did you learn anything about yourself? Did you learn what matters to you most? Practicing gratitude daily (or more often) can help you learn to appreciate what is, rather than dwelling on what you haven’t done.

3. Be Open-Minded and Flexible

In addition to reflecting on what has already happened, that is good, be open-minded to receiving good things that come your way. Be ready to accept opportunities and good moments that arise. If something positive unexpectedly happens, accept it. This gives you the chance to be flexible, rather than feeling guilty for not sticking to your original resolutions. Life is full of surprises - don’t be so rigid and hard on yourself that you miss out on the good things happening around you.

4. Listen to Your Body

When you practice mindfulness, you learn to become aware of what is happening around you and what your body is telling you. Sometimes our minds and bodies want different things - if you are set on accomplishing a goal today, but your body needs rest, your mind won’t win. We have a tendency to push, push, push, but what ends up happening is we burn out and feel guilty about it. Pay attention to those bodily sensations and cues and respect what your body needs.

5. Forgive Yourself

When we’re so focused on accomplishing our goals, we judge ourselves harshly when we don’t achieve them. Keep the guilt and shame in check. If you start to feel overwhelmed by the mountain of things you haven’t accomplished, stop, take a deep breath, pay attention to what your body is telling you, ask yourself what you have accomplished, and forgive yourself for the guilt and shame - for being hard on yourself. You do not have to forgive yourself for not meeting your goals. Reflect on why you haven’t done what you set out to do and adjust your expectations. It’s more important that you are kind, compassionate, and forgiving to yourself than getting through your to-do list.

Learn to Forgive Yourself & Feel Productive

Therapy can help you find that balance between productivity and self-forgiveness. We are all trying to figure out how to navigate this new world with new challenges.

If you need one-on-one support, contact Dr. Heather Violante, Psy.D. today at 954.391.5305 or at her website to find out how she can help you learn to forgive and love yourself, so you can move forward in life.


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