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Gentle Goal Setting in the New Year

Well, 2023 is here. Whoop De Do…now what?

At the beginning of any year, the world seems full of hope and talk about change. Talk about setting new goals and new resolutions abound. By the time February rolls around (if that long), it seems that some of that “new” steam fades, and people return to their old ways. So, why do we do this year after year? Why would we do this at a time in our life when we are face to face with grief and all that it entails?

Grieving the loss of a spouse or partner is a difficult time. The idea of creating resolutions and setting goals may just be more than your energy will allow. All the Happy New Year and let’s get going vibes are just annoying at this time. You may just want to tuck under your blanket until spring, summer, or for forever. That’s normal and OK to sit where you are for a bit. However, time and life move forward - fortunately or unfortunately. So what do you do when it’s a challenging time when New Year happens?

Do ONE thing - set a gentle goal.

Setting a small goal can be your way of handling both grief and the New Year resolution thing. Start by identifying the things you need to get done and those items that you would like to have done.

First - What’s the one thing you really must get done? It’s that thing likely hanging over you, and you’ve been avoiding it. 

Examples: For Teresa, it was the shopping bags and bags of mail and paperwork tumbling off the dining room table. It just felt like too much. For Jeni, it was just getting through the day-to-day as everything seemed overwhelming. 

Next - What would you like to have done? What is something you can do for yourself? Remember, self-care is just as important as those other items on your to-do list. Our blog on It’s OK to take care of yourself will provide some guidance on self-care.

Take a look at your list. When would you like to accomplish these items? If you like, put a date next to each item. This will enable you to identify “priority” items. Make sure to include your self-care items in identifying timelines.

Are any of these items doable with your present energy levels? Do any need to be broken down into smaller elements because they are overwhelming? For example, if you have mounds of paperwork that need to be handled, can you divide it up into smaller parts and just tackle one pile at a time? If you have phone calls that need to be made, can you make just one today and then tackle another one later? Which one should be first?

Use your list to set reachable goals for yourself. 

You may also be past the time of overwhelm and full of energy. Your body and mind may be saying, “OK, time to start living again.” You are full of “ let’s do this” and ready to set a bunch of goals and aspirations for yourself. That’s good forward movement.  We encourage you to also set gentle goals that, while may stretch you in some way, are reachable. If you would like more information about setting goals in grief, please visit our Grief and Goals blog.

As you tackle your goal list, please keep in mind those resolution setters that we discussed earlier. Many set resolutions in January only to lose steam in February and may or may not follow through on their initial ideas. Celebrate the goals that you accomplish - even the small ones. They are all important. If you do not achieve a goal or need to modify the contents or timeline, give yourself some grace. Take a breath. Decide on your next step. Rest a moment if you have to. Then you can move forward.

Wherever you are in your grief journey, know that you are doing the best you can. Setting small, reachable goals can be one way of assisting you in your travels. 

One of our goals this year is to grow our audience and assist more widows who are traveling on this journey. Please assist us in achieving this goal by sharing our site with others who need it in their lives. You can also follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn or sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of our site. If you have a topic that you would like us to discuss, please contact us.

Peace & blessings,
Teresa & Jeni

PS: For additional support, you can download our free copy of 10 Ways to Move Forward After Loss

Torn in Half: The First Days as a resource for the first days after a loss - available on Amazon in paperback and ebook.

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