Leaning into the ‘new adventure’ of 2021

Posted 1/7/21

How are your New Year and life resolutions coming along? This week, we talked about that subject with Ashleigh Glover, a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate, whose personal experience …

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Leaning into the ‘new adventure’ of 2021

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How are your New Year and life resolutions coming along? This week, we talked about that subject with Ashleigh Glover, a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate, whose personal experience (documented by the News + Record last fall) demonstrates that new beginnings can be the foundation for significant life changes.

Glover was raised by a single father and an alcoholic mother who was in and out of jail, and has dedicated her adult life to the mental health counseling profession and being a voice to silence the stigma surrounding mental health. Today, she owns and operates Chatham Counseling & Wellness, an outpatient counseling office providing therapy to all populations, in Siler City.

Glover has worked with numerous organizations and has been honored with accolades from the North Carolina Counseling Association — including Most Improved Division of 2019 after she served as the Past President of the North Carolina Counseling Association Graduate Division. Glover serves as membership chairperson for the North Carolina Counseling Association and is a an ambassador for the Chatham County Chamber of Commerce.

A new year means a new beginning. For obvious reasons we’re all ready to turn our backs on 2020 and embrace 2021, but likely most of us have regrets, unmet obligations, newly acquired bad habits, broken promises and more that we’re carrying into January. Let’s start with “out with the old.” What’s the best way to move on, to move past, and to unbind ourselves from that which held us back, or slowed us down, in 2020? How do we learn from the past year and carry those lessons — but not the baggage — into a new year?

It is vital to let go of old expectations and welcome the new year. Moving forward can be a scary journey. In order to do that, we have to let go of resistance and fear. We can’t live in the past — living in the past can cause anxiety and fear of the future. Living in the present moment, enjoying each day with gratitude.

Gratitude is an appreciation for things around us, small or big. We can be grateful for a home, for our family, for our health or for a new job or a raise. We can be grateful for a cup of warm coffee on a cold day. When you are truly in a place of gratitude, even for 30 seconds, it can change your mood and your mindset. I encourage you to take a moment, push pause and find something to be grateful for. I guarantee it can shift your mood and perspective of that moment.

Many of us make resolutions for Jan. 1 and beyond. Why are new beginnings important?

A new year is a time for a new beginning and a fresh start. It is a time to embrace and lean into the new adventure of 2021. We are allowed to set new goals and new milestones that we’d like to achieve. Sure, we all have goals we’d like to reach, but how do you get started? The first step is to allow the new to have its place in our life. Allow yourself to start a new journey, lean into the vulnerability of doing something new, and forgive yourself for past mistakes and setbacks.

When thinking about resolutions and making goals for a new year, what’s the best way to give ourselves the best chance at success? How do we make our resolutions and promises stick?

The best way to make our goals and promises stick is to make a commitment to yourself regarding the change process. Resolutions and goals are ultimately changing behavior. The cycle of change begins with precontemplation (not thinking of change), contemplation (aware but no commitment), followed by preparation (preparing to change), and action (take action to change). The last steps include maintenance (new behavior is present), and relapse (falling back into a pattern of old behaviors).

First, we must identify where we are in the process of change and what we want to change. Going into the New Year, most folks are in the preparation stage. To see it through, we must be prepared to change and be prepared for the maintenance and relapse phase.

 

Invariably, we might stumble or fail. What then? How do we keep our focus, maintain enthusiasm for what we want to do in 2021? And do you have any secrets or advice for overcoming temptation, struggles, or a negative attitude when we do fail?

Going into 2021, we must have hope. Some doors will open, and some doors will close. Money will come, and money will go. We will fail, and we will pick ourselves up again. 2020 taught us that our lives can be changed in an instant. We maintain hope that we are resilient, courageous and capable.

Knowing that it’s OK to be not be happy in every moment. It’s OK to have feelings like sadness, and fear. The key is to recognize what we are feeling, why we are feeling it and what we need in the moment. Sometimes, we just need to be in the emotion, learn from that emotion and then give yourself some grace. Forgive yourself, be kind to yourself and move forward.

What advice do you have, or what tools can you suggest, for helping us maintain the best mental health we can throughout this year — not knowing what 2021 may throw at us?

The best way to maintain throughout this year is to take care of yourself. Self-care is conscious effort to take care of your physical, mental and emotional health. The act is important and vital to maintaining a healthy mind and spirit. We must find ways to fill ourselves in order to serve and to be present for others. Look for ways to take time for yourself.

Self-care can be a manicure, gardening, walking, a long nap, reading a book, exercising, cooking, 15 minutes to yourself, or just saying “no.” What does self-care look like for you?

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