New Year, Same You

Welcome to 2024! For many of us, January brings a sense of renewal, optimism, and resolution. While it’s a great opportunity to reflect and consider how we’d like the latter half of the school year to go or what we’d like to adjust in our lives, the risk of becoming too tied to resolutions is we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to achieve goals that may not be reasonable, and then by February we are beating ourselves up.

The turn of the new year does not mean you will suddenly be a different person. If you have been a couch potato for the last many years of your life, it’s unlikely that on January 1st you will become an ultramarathoner. That does not mean you can’t become an ultramarathoner if you want to. It means there are many more steps and planning required for us to make changes to work toward a goal. So how do we make the best of our New Year goals? Reflect, refocus, and be reasonable.



A beautiful time of year to reflect is as we change over from one year to the next. Reflection is not just thinking and talking. It’s about thinking more deeply, more analytically, more curiously. If you think of what a mirror does – it reflects an image back to us. Reflection is about looking at ourselves, our thought patterns, our habits, and our desires. Reflection helps us get curious about ourselves and explore goals we may have.

Reflection is not about judging ourselves harshly. It’s about exploring who we are, how we behave and what matters to us. Perhaps we have a desire to be more active, but we’ve hit snooze on our early morning workout alarms, and we’ve been spending most evenings feeling exhausted and flopping down on our couch. This is a great time to wonder – Why might that be? What might I need? What do I want to feel? What might be possible to both attend to the needs I have and work toward increasing activity in my life?



The new year is a great time for us to refocus on our values and our goals. We can refocus on plans for infusing what we want to have in our lives. What matters to you? Why does it matter? It’s so easy to get swept away in the priorities, needs, and focus of everyone around us when things get busy, and we get stressed. But if we get refocused and create clarity around what matters to us (values) we can resist the pressures when they come.

Some refocusing questions: What do I want/need? Why does it matter to me? How do I achieve it? To help keep our refocusing, well, focused it can help to narrow down your focus to 2 – 3 buckets. A values triad can help to stay focused.

Example: one year, during my reflection, I narrowed in on three important focusses/values for myself:

•   health (mind, body, spirit),

•   family (my partner and kids)

•   wealth (addressing my student loan debt and building financial security).

These values represented areas of my life I wanted to focus on because they mattered the most to me and/or were the highest priorities at the time for a variety of reasons.


This values triad helped me in the coming year(s) to stay focused when I was making decisions about how to spend my time. When an opportunity came along – whether it was work related or personal life related, I used my values triad to consider how saying yes to that opportunity fit (or did not fit) with my values. By the end of that year, I had made decisions that wiped out my student debt, built a more connected life for my family and enhanced my overall health. Some decisions were small (like whether to take on that new project at work that would lead to less family time or whether to pick up a book instead of scrolling social media) and others were large (like choosing when to sell and buy real estate and/or invest money) but the framework helped keep me focused and clear on what was right for me. Over time, those small and large choices culminated to larger outcomes. Saying no and setting boundaries on things that didn’t fit with my values was easier with the triad framework because I had clarity and focus on what mattered to me and why.


BE REASONABLE (and specific)

When you’re creating your focus for the year, consider the reasonability test. Maybe you won’t go from couch to ultramarathon by February, but perhaps you could develop a plan to work toward your goal. Start where you are, be who you are, and work toward your goal. Could you join a local walk/run group? Could you start increasing your steps or go on a weekly trail walk with a friend?

This does not have to be your goal (your goal should flow from your reflection and refocus activities and be meaningful to you!). The point is that we need to be reasonable with ourselves and create plans that fit into our real lives and work with who we are/what matters to us. Create checkpoints along the way, maybe set some micro-goals that you will build on to work toward the larger goal.


Be specific – create a measurable and attainable goal and have steps that you can work toward to achieve that goal. Maybe your measurable goal is that by April you are running for 30 minutes a couple of times a week in your neighbourhood. And maybe your starting place is you are going to start by walking for 10 minutes three days a week. Create a plan to get you from now to April that fits with your life.  Once you’ve achieved that micro-goal, plan to do another reflection and re-assessment and create a new milestone to work toward.

We don’t need a new year to create resolutions, but it’s a great time to build a practice of reflecting & refocusing.


Wishing you a wonderful start to 2024! Please reach out to the BCPVPA EIP Program if you would like some support and guidance around remaining professionally well.

With respect and admiration,

Darby Barnes

Rehabilitation Consultant
Humanworks Consulting Group

February 2024

Sign up for Humanworks News

An occasional email that shares insights, thoughts, and recommendations about wellness to our internal network.