New Year Resolutions toward Self Actualization

New Year Resolutions toward Self-Actualization

It’s that time of year again when many people start to brainstorm and set goals for the New Year. Resolutions can be a healthy practice to work on keeping yourself motivated and gaining accomplishments. There is plenty of advice out there on what goals people should and shouldn’t set and how to do it.

In this post, I’m going to offer you more of a strategy of how I set my goals for the year. I keep a working document of these goals and make changes and adjustments to it throughout the year. It can also serve as a “self-care” plan. This helps keep me focused and balanced as well as moving toward something that I find meaningful…. self-actualization.

Many people are familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow is best known for his work on self-actualization and he developed a pyramid to show basic needs and growth needs that are necessary to lead to self-actualization.

What is self-actualization? Self-actualization is basically when someone is functioning at their highest potential. Read what Wiki has to say here.

Now, to be self-actualized would be a pretty big New Year Resolution. So my theory is to break down the needs, continue to grow in each area, and work closer and closer to self-actualization. Maybe I’ll get there before I die, maybe I won’t. I know I will learn a lot in my process and continue to become a better person each year. I’ve actually been doing this since 2010… and am not self-actualized.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

I use the pyramid to organize my goals into different important areas of life to get a well rounded wellness plan for myself.  Below you will find a visual aid of the pyramid followed by me breaking down each section and talking briefly about possible goals for that area.  Remember not to be confined to what I write and be creative.  The idea of this post is to show the structure and get the juices flowing!

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - New Year Resolutions

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – New Year Resolutions

Physiological Needs

Here you find the category that many people set for their New Year resolutions. Diet and Exercise!!!

Physiological needs are at the base of the pyramid because when your health suffers often everything else in your life suffers as well.  So it is important to take good care of your health! Goals here for some people could involve things like getting blood work done, or having a physical. Some people are so quick to sign up for a diet and exercise plan, but what about actually going to the doctor, getting the numbers and setting your goals from there? Remember goals are best if they are catered toward YOUR INDIVIDUAL NEEDS.

Other people like to set up exercise goals like run a certain distance, lift a certain amount of weights or join a local sports team. Whatever works for you! Make sure the goal is “doable” and something you WANT to do!

Safety Needs

For most people reading this it is likely you have a home with locks on your windows and doors and live in a safe neighborhood. People that don’t have these accommodations need more attention to this category and might have goals that involve moving out of an abusive home or high crime neighborhood. For those that are not in immediate safety risks, other resolutions could be to focus on simple things like checking the battery in your smoke detector or vehicle maintenance to prevent car issues on the road. Some people might want to take a self-defense class or educate themselves on safe practices in the home, community or on the job.

Belongingness Needs

Some people might be on the search for friends or a significant other and will have a goal to join a local club or sign up for an online dating site in order to meet new people. If you have friends and/or a significant other, New Year resolutions to foster those relationships can be helpful.  People might work on date nights, acts of kindness, sending letters, or planning fun activities with friends. Other goals could be working on communicating better with others, building more intimacy in your relationship, mending emotional wounds in a relationship or even ending a relationship.

Esteem Needs

Often times people don’t naturally like themselves or feel good about themselves. Daily practice of positive affirmations would be a great New Year resolution for some people. Or standing in the mirror every day and pointing out one thing you like about yourself. Another idea is to say “THANK YOU” when someone compliments you rather than minimizing your accomplishment or desired feature. Sound difficult? It might be…. but like most things, it will become easier with practice!

The prior goals are considered “D-needs” which are necessary for survival and now we are moving more into the higher needs.


 Cognitive Needs

Some cognitive goals I might set for myself might be to attending a training, reading books, learning about a new subject or skill set. Some people might even take a college course or you can join a club and learn and talk to others about whatever it is you are learning or are passionate about! Learning is fun and it is a catalyst to help in growth and change! A wise professor once told me, “If you didn’t change, you didn’t learn!”

Aesthetic Needs

There is so much beauty in the world….

Aesthetic Needs are pleasing to the eye and enjoyable. Some people might set a New Year resolution of watching the sunrise or sunset. Organizing your home or office to be aesthetically pleasing or setting a goal to become organized in general (this one is on my list personally!). Re-design a room in your home. Use pleasing decor. Set up your environment around you to be peaceful and serene.

Self-Actualization

I don’t set a goal here because self-actualization is the product of achieving the prior goals. So when you get here you just enjoy and soak it in! Few people in this world have achieved self-actualization, but as I noted earlier, it wouldn’t hurt to set up a lifetime journey of moving forward!

This list isn’t meant to be overwhelming, rather showing a more holistic way to look at New Year Resolutions. Maybe not all areas need attention right now and they might not need attention all at the same time. My suggestion is to set small realistic goals in each area and revisit the list every few months to make adjustments and continue progressing forward. Write down what you have accomplished in these areas along the way so that at the end of the year you have a list of what you did do!

I find that most goals will fit into one of these areas and it helps me to really prioritize what is important.

I hope you have fun with this and it gives you an idea of a strategy and a way to go about this New Year Resolution business!

A blog post about how parents can help kids working through feelings when finding out about Santa

The Day Santa Died

I don’t know about you, but there is talk around these parts that Santa isn’t real….

- Santa isn’t real
– What do you mean NOT REAL?! Who brings me presents every year?
– It’s your parents – they are Santa. There is no way Santa can bring everyone presents; it’s not possible.
– But he is magical and can go really fast
– Only babies believe in Santa….

WHAT? How can this BE? IS Santa real or NOT? —— MOM, DAD, “IS SANTA REAL?!”

If you are a parent of an elementary aged child, your child might be going though this current turmoil right now and coming to you for the answers.

Finding out about Santa is often a traumatic experience for many people. I know it was for me. It was full of grief, sadness, anxiety, fear, and anger.  I have also learned about how many other people found out about Santa via my therapy sessions and have learned quite a lot about people by hearing about this horrible day.

I figured I would offer some suggestions to parents who have this day looming in the future when your child asks you if Santa is real….. Because your child will likely remember this day for the rest of time, it is important to put some thought into how you want to handle it! So here are my thoughts from a therapist’s point of view!

  1. It’s OK that your kid is mad at you. “YOU LIED TO ME.” (Yes you did lie, don’t try to cover up the fact that you didn’t lie.) You brought your child to see Santa, you mailed letters to Santa.. (and I hear Santa has a phone number these days…) So apologize for lying. Your kid wants you to acknowledge this. Kids obviously know right from wrong and they know lying is wrong. Now is not a good time to explain why you did it.  Wait until he or she is calm and less emotional. Apologize.
  2. Allow your child to express his/her feelings. A lot of emotions are going on and they are STRONG emotions and your kid is basically facing a major existential crisis so allow him or her to cry and be angry and upset. Your child is sad, devastated, angry, and furious. Many children also realize if Santa isn’t real, neither is the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and so forth. So let them process this new information and the onslaught of related emotions that come with it.
  3. Validate your child’s feelings. Hear their sadness and their anger. DO NOT SHAME THEM FOR HAVING THESE EMOTIONS. Now is not the time to say, “well you’re old enough now” but rather “I understand this hurts…” The adult talk can come a little later.
  4. Allow space for grieving. As you notice in my title I write “the day Santa died.” That might sound extreme right? Well, because it is extreme.  That is likely how your kid feels. So treat it like grandma or grandpa just died, because this is a huge loss for your child and the magic of Christmas as been changed for the rest of their lives. Yes, new magic will come as they grow, but allow your kid to grieve the loss.
  5. Once your child is calm and has worked through the loss and moving beyond their existential crisis, now is a good time to bring them to the “Adult side.” That might be keeping Santa real for a younger sibling or cousin, or maybe starting a new tradition of sorts, doing something special for your little one the year that they found out the truth, or focusing more on the non-commercialism of Christmas – like giving back to the poor and helping others. Making a new positive focus can be helpful for your child – just allow the grieving to happen first :)

If you have any other suggestions feel free to add them to the comments below!

Good Luck Parents!