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Do we need New Year's Resolutions in Psychology? Are they helpful?

by Dr Marianne Trent, Clinical Psychologist

This article has been amended from Episode 56 of The Aspiring Psychologist Podcast. If you'd prefer to listen to it then you can here. You can also watch it on YouTube here.

I am Dr. Marianne Trent and I'm a qualified clinical psychologist. Wishing you the happiest of Happy New Years. Welcome to 2023. Does it look like you thought it would? I guess, yeah, today as I write this just before Christmas, this feels like a time of reflection for me. So I'm writing this on the 19th of December and the 20th of December will be five years since my dad died. And it's always feels like a kind of nice chance to be able to reflect on what's come and gone in those five years. And of course I lost a great deal when I lost my dad, as you might well be aware if you've also lost a parent or someone significant to you. But there have also been great things that have come since my dad died and things that when you are in the middle of grief can feel tricky to even imagine that that would happen.

I would never have imagined that I would become self-employed, let alone fully self-employed. Which my dad was actually from when I was around 10 or 11, I think, until shortly before he died. He, retired when he was 69, and so I would've liked to have had a chat with him about what being self-employed was like and that's something that I won't ever get a chance to do. But I definitely got an understanding of what he was all about, and what being self-employed meant to him and that he'd get his books out on a, on a Sunday evening in the kitchen when it was quiet, and he'd sort of go through them there, whilst eating cheese and crackers. And yeah, I definitely got the idea that being self-employed is about working flexibly.

1) What have you achieved in the last year?
2) What would you like to see yourself achieve in the next year?

These questions have been prompted for me today because I had my yearly email sent to me from me. So it's something I set up via a website called Future Me. Basically, you can write yourself a little letter that will be be emailed out to you at a specific time and date. And so I forget about it every year and then I see it in my emails that I've got an email from myself, future Me, and it's really nice to be able to reflect on where you were last year. Um, but then I've written my one for next year, so it will arrive with me on the 19th of December, 2023.

So it's got my hopes, it's got my dreams, it's got a bit of a recap about where I've been this year because we can so easily forget. So is that something you could think about doing? And if you did, what would be in it? You know, would you celebrate things that have happened this year? Would you, you know, commiserate and be sad and be compassionate to yourself for things that have happened this year or that haven't happened this year? We all still lost a great deal from COVID even if people we know didn't die from it. There were sacrifices to pay for many of us with things that didn't happen. Um, are you still wheeling from that? Are there things that you know you would like to have be different next year? And given that you might well be an aspiring psychologist or working in mental health, there might be things that you'd like to achieve in your career next year.

So if you are an aspiring psychologist, perhaps you'd like to imagine that you might be on a doctorate by this time next year. So your doctorate might have started in September, or you might have had some really useful experiences at interview, or you might be really feeling like you've gained the relevant skills and experience for you to be able to stand a much stronger chance. Maybe you are able to say to yourself:

"Yes, I believe it's my time and I am ready for this next step this year in 2023"

Because I do honestly believe that is what I would've said to myself and probably was saying to myself, but not perhaps quite as directly, as that in 2007 when I was, you know, I guess I'd already submitted my form, which was successful, but I didn't know that yet. But I did feel it.

I felt like hopeful. I felt like I was in the right head space and that I had the right experiences that I was able to draw and reflect on in a great way that would hopefully I just felt confident, you know? Um, and so that's been something that's been really lovely to nurture people with in the Aspiring Psychologist membership, which is something which didn't exist this time last year. It was born on the 28th of February, 2022. That's when we welcomed our first cohort of members in. And it's been the loveliest membership to champion actually. And people say really lovely things about it. So if you are thinking, oh, maybe 2023 might bring me more people that understand where I'm at, maybe it might bring me, you know, more CBT teaching skills and formulation. Maybe it might increase my skills and understanding in a number of areas, you know, including, cognitive analytic therapy, psychodynamic, motivational interviewing.

You know, there's reflective practice stuff that maybe you'd like to increase your skills and confidence in. Then do come aboard, to the Aspiring Psychologist membership, which you can get for £30 a month and you can cancel any time. So if you wanna dive in for a month and see what it's like, see whether it works for you, then absolutely do that. And you can watch stuff on replay if you don't wanna watch it live. Or you can do both. You can watch things live, you can watch things on replay, and there's your weekly chance to ask me any questions as well. So yeah, I'm at your beckoned call, so do consider that. But in the last year we also had the birth of the Aspiring Psychologist Collective book, and that again, has been lovely and hearing people say that they really like that, they like feeling validated and normalised in their experiences and people are still saying lovely things about the clinical psychologist collective too.

So honestly, when I decided to leave, employed life in April, 2021, well, I decided in January, 2021 and then I had to wait out my, notice period. So when I decided, you know, so it was two years ago, I decided very almost, I couldn't have imagined that I'd be enjoying life this much, you know, and that's what I would like you to be thinking as well this time next year. You know, I couldn't have imagined that it would feel this good to be doing what I'm doing right now, and I've always enjoyed what I've done. It's not like I was having a horrid time, it's just that I was really liking the opportunity to be able to work flexibly and quickly and responsibly. So that was part of my decision, to leave and to go all in because I wanted to be able to support you guys in new different creative ways.

That took more of my time as well. And of course, that allowed the podcast to be born as well. We have now celebrated, but we're about to celebrate as I record this our one year anniversary. So as you were listening to this, this happened on the 24th of December. That was our one year anniversary, and it's just lovely. I know I keep saying lovely, but it is like, you know, working with you guys who are really eager and excited and hungry for information, but grateful for information too. You're just a really nice, you know, group of people to work with. So if you enjoy what I do as ever, please do consider leaving me a review on Apple Podcasts, or if you'd like to come on and do a testimonial for the podcast or any of the books, then please do check out the details in the show notes.

So, now let's think about the practice of New Year's resolutions. And I guess I think about it as being perhaps a way to set your intentions, but let's not go too wild. Let's not change too many things at once. You know, you might wanna pick one area of your life, so that might be personal, it might be professional, it might be, you know, the way you nourish yourself or the way that you move your body. And maybe that's something that you can strive for, just one area to begin with and really look at, you know, what we talk about this smart goals. So specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time focused. And the theory is if we can do things for a hundred days, then it becomes a habit, then it's something that we integrate into the way that we do things. So that might look like keeping a reflective journal, um, every day or a few times a week.

So, building that into your regular schedule. So for me, I tend to edit podcast episodes on Fridays and Mondays and record them then too. And I might, well, if I haven't done my email for the week, I might do that on a Sunday. usually laying down, being quite comfortable, something that becomes predictable and repeatable so that it just slots into your life effortlessly. And that's what we are looking for here with any intentions or resolutions, things that you are choosing to do from a gestalt perspective, rather than feeling like you must or should or got to do. So I choose to create this podcast for you, and in doing so, I choose to sacrifice some of my time because I think that editing it well and doing all the show notes and the transcribing and things is worth it. I'm choosing to do that and therefore it doesn't feel like I've got to do that.

And sometimes just that small shift in the way that you think about things from got to, to choose to can be really transformational for you. And so, yeah, what could you choose to do in 2023 that might enhance your life or an area of your life? And once you've got your a hundred days under your belt, then you might like to think about a new intention, rather than cramming it all in at once. Because if we suddenly overwhelm ourselves with, you know, I'm gonna get healthy, I'm gonna eat really well, I'm gonna exercise every day, I'm gonna, you know, get the world's best job. I'm gonna have the world's best relationship. I'm gonna, you know, do all this published research. There's only so many hours in the day and it's gonna probably lead to overwhelm and burnout, which might then take a dip on your self-esteem.

So let's be kind and compassionate to ourselves. Let's be realistic. Let's pick one area. So if you wanted to look into getting some research, experience or getting yourself published, um, as a researcher, then what can you do to make that achievable? How can you break that down into smart goals? Um, so yeah, have a think about what you'd like your life to look like next year and just take some moments to plan that out. Maybe think about writing that letter to yourself, as an email on Future Me and yeah, just see where you get to and where you'd like to get to by this time next year. It has been my absolute pleasure to bring all of this content to you over this last year, all of 2022, which has just been wonderful. Thank you so much for being part of my world, and please do stay in it in 2023.

If you've got any special requests for podcast episodes or if you'd like to come along and discuss something, um, pertinent to you that might appeal to the audience, please do get in contact by going to the podcast page of my website. And then there's a little form on there, so it's You can also record testimonials for me on there. And I should also let you know that the other day I changed my Facebook business page to Dr. Marianne Trent. So now you can find all of me on all of my socials as Dr. Marianne Trent. Everything is consistent, isn't that marvellous? So yeah, come and follow me in all those places. Just look for Dr. Marianne Trent and you will find me and connect with me. It will be lovely to do so. I love to celebrate your wins. So please do connect with me and follow with me on LinkedIn and Instagram as that's where I see most of you and your wins.

I'm on YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn. I think that's it. I think that's it. That's enough, isn't it? That's enough. Oh, I'm also on a Pinterest, but I'm not very good at Pinterest. Um, but yeah, you could follow me on there if you wanted to. And I will maybe think about trying to become better on Pinterest in 2023. Do you like Pinterest? I find myself looking at nail designs on there recently. But other than that, yeah, I find it hard! Hard to know what's going on. It's good for room design ideas and things, isn't it? But is it good for business? I don't know. Let me know. What do you think? So, yes, thank you so much for being part of my world. Do come along to the free Facebook group, which is the Aspiring Psychologist Community. Stay warm this winter, get the hot water bottles out. I've been really enjoying those. Um, and yeah, stay safe. Look after yourself. Be kind and think about where you'd like to be by this time next year. Take care if.

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