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Hello New Year: The Important Role of Self-Love in Self-Improvement

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It’s a new year, and my resolution is simple: To not let resolution season get the best of me. I really do believe in striving to better ourselves and to have a positive impact on our families, our friends, our communities, and our world. But so many of the messages that swirl around this time of year are designed to make those who identify as women feel ‘less than’. It’s easy to forget the important role of self-love in self-improvement!

If you’re looking to make changes of any sort in 2019, here are eight things to keep in mind that push self-love to the forefront.

  1. Take stock of your awesomeness: I like the way writer, illustrator, and entrepreneur Emily McDowell puts it: “If you feel inspired to use the new year to help you reset or change habits: Great. And yet: The old you has survived every terrible day, every hard thing, every awful circumstance, and every heartbreak you’ve ever felt. The old you is a fighter. And that’s worth celebrating.” Amen to that!
  2. Be honest but kind to yourself: A dose of self-reflection should always be balanced with a dose of kindness. A resolution, to me, has always sounded like a “solution” to a “problem.” And I don’t think any of us should view ourselves as problems – it’s not a very loving place to start from when making change. Author Martha Beck wrote “I figured out that if I could become my own worst enemy, I could also become my own best friend.” Be a friend to yourself this year.
  3. See beyond the “good/bad” binary: We have a tendency to categorize our qualities as either “good” or “bad”. Building more flexibility into how we think about our qualities could be the key: A Taoist story about a farmer and his horse, summed up here, shows us “there is actually no such thing as good or bad… Good things are constantly being born out of the seemingly bad, and vice versa.” Recognize that something you may label “bad” might also have “good” to it, either right now or down the road (provided, of course, that it isn’t leading you to hurt yourself or others). This can be an empowering and nuanced way to do some self-exploration and reflection.
  4. Flip the script: The ways women are socialized may skew how we categorize and value certain qualities. Do we need to resolve to diet and go to the gym, or is it better to resolve to confront unrealistic body ideals? Do we need to resolve to become more organized, or resolve to share the work at home more evenly? Don’t be afraid to flip the script and challenge popular resolutions when shaping your goals.
  5. Account for factors beyond your control and practice acceptance: Alongside all that we can control, we also must recognize what we can’t. We may struggle for control and focus oh-so-hard on what is unchangeable in that moment, rather than simply accepting it, and moving on to look for what is changeable. With all that misdirected energy, it’s easy to miss the changeable opportunities – and that might mean there’s nothing left in the tank to go for them once you notice them. Being smart from the resolution start means looking at what’s changeable now. Bonus: The process of ‘accounting for’ and ‘accepting’ can bring you a new level of peace.
  6. Take a feminist-centered media and social media approach: Let’s face it: what we consume can become part of who we are (for better or for worse). Even if one of your resolutions involves cutting back on screen time, you may still want to consider giving your media and social media feeds a feminist update by seeking out people and organizations that will bring you inspiring, joyous, and important content all year long.
  7. Avoid being overwhelmed by going for something simple and broad: Self-improvement with a self-love lens is about not overloading yourself. I could write pages of specific things I’d like to change, but I’ve always found I’m happier and less overwhelmed when I pick one broad idea to live by versus setting out to tick things off a giant to-do list all at once. This can be as simple and as broad as committing to be just a little bit more of something, like declaring “I will bring the most <courageous> or <curious> or <insert other adjective here> version of myself to 2019!”
  8. Explore the idea of a collective resolution: Are there any resolutions you might want to make with friends? With family? With someone halfway across the globe? Hey, anything is possible! You might just find additional accountability, encouragement, and joy by having a collective goal. At the same time, check in with yourself to see how this plays with what you want and need for yourself. Perhaps this year you want and need to focus solely on you, and that’s more than okay!

On that note, Happy New Year to all our friends who support the Canadian Women’s Foundation. You make it possible for us to move women and girls out of violence, out of poverty, and into confidence and leadership! If you are feeling inspired to build a more gender-equal Canada, you can donate here. And before you go, please also leave a comment about your plans for 2019!

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One response to “Hello New Year: The Important Role of Self-Love in Self-Improvement”

  1. Wow, great article! Loved your tips. Such a big boost to self improvement. Indeed, we need to set realistic goals and just be honest with ourselves but always be kind. Dont be too hard on yourself. Because loving ourselves is always the priority. I do believe in that. Self love is important. Thank you so much for reminding us! Really!

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