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Posted under: Culture

The Introvert's Guide To Navigating 'New Year, New Me'

We spoke with a therapist. Turns out, you don't have to reinvent yourself annually.

It happens every year. The clock strikes midnight signaling the start of a new year, and boom — your social media timeline is crawling with the proclamation of “new year, new me.” This online trend has become one of the most common calendar-flipping occurrences. For introverts, the commonality of it all doesn’t resonate nearly as much as the terrifying nature of having to redefine one’s self annually.  

While it’s a catchy phrase to attach to your Happy New Year selfies, do you really need to reinvent yourself every year? LaKeitha Poole, Ph.D., CEO & clinical director of Small Talk Counseling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, says not exactly, especially if you’re someone who relies on solitude and routine for your energy expenditure. 

If this sounds like you, here are seven tips for introverts to navigate the new year without the possibility of reinvention, courtesy of Dr. Poole.


1. Pick Your Own New Year
Jan. 1 may be the beginning of the Gregorian calendar, but it doesn’t actually have to be the day you recognize as your new year. The idea that the new year begins in the dead of winter amid seasonal depression is all the more reason to choose a brighter time to begin your annual trek through the calendar.

Seasonal depression is real,” Poole told Blavity. “It can be really hard to determine if some downward turn in your emotions is due to weather and seasons changing or if it’s something about you that you need to change. Give yourself a little grace to understand that while the calendar is changing, the world is also changing around us.”

Poole encourages people to be mindful of when they feel most energized.

“If everyone could sort of figure out what is that time of year for you, where you feel most energized by what’s going for you in life, school, relationships," she said. "It’s a birthday month for some people. It takes the pressure off of assuming you have to do it when everybody else is doing it. Make it a milestone point for you — pick a time that’s meaningful for you.”

2. Redefine The Concept Of New Year, New Me

The concept of the saying can feel like a huge disruptor. While transformation can very well be a good thing, the idea that you must transform annually might not be the best way to navigate the world. Poole suggests that people be self-reflective in a positive way so that they don’t make unnecessary changes to an effective lifestyle formula. 

“[New year, new me] implies that there has to be this very active external approach,” Poole said. “It sounds like, ‘Man, I’m getting in the mud to do this huge transformation,’ that may require external changes, like physically for some people. It feels very massive. Instead of it being ‘new year, new me,’ it could also mean, ‘I’m doing things exactly the way I did last year because it worked for me.’ Glean from your experiences and mistakes and take that as an active approach.”


3. Have A vision For Your Year And Establish Boundaries

When envisioning your annual success, Poole suggests you ask yourself about your goals and areas of personal wellness that need more attention. She also cautions that you protect these qualities with solid boundaries around your time and energy. 

“Avoiding stress is much easier when you can already imagine desired outcomes and successes,” Poole said. “Protecting time, relationships and mental health are imperative for people who spend more time with themselves than others.”

4. Embrace Seasons Of Murphy’s Law

The age-old adage of Murphy’s Law cautions that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. While most people try to avoid this concept, Poole suggests people embrace the transformation of it all instead of worrying about the other shoe dropping. 

“In today's world, we worry less about the big errors or life challenges but tend to hyper-focus on the negative things that happen in everyday life. Because of this, when something small goes wrong, we dwell on it and remember it longer than when something good happens,” Poole said. “This skews our perception of the events affecting everyday occurrences so that it feels like more negative things are happening than good. Instead, learning to accept challenging seasons as simple seasons can lead to a more consistently positive headspace.”

5. Create A Space

If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us nothing else, it showed us the significance of creating designated spaces for all areas of our productivity, as well as separate spaces for self-care and relaxation. 

“Creating an environment designed for specific tasks makes us more productive and frees us to tackle the task at hand," Poole said. "Each space/environment triggers different mindsets so having them be separate has been really helpful. Your physical environment affects your mental space.”


6. Practice Radical Self-Care

For most of us, it is often difficult to feel validated in pursuing self-care and setting appropriate boundaries to love ourselves fully so that we can be properly loved and appreciated by others. 

“We’re not talking about just tending to yourself after everyone else's needs are met but actually moving self-care high up on your priority list,” Poole said. “Literally, it’s bombarding yourself with love and appreciation.” 

She turned to her own self-care habits to offer suggestions. 

“I do love a good new planner or a calendar to physically write in because something about that allows me to take jumbled thoughts out of my head and put them down on paper, and then I don’t feel as pressured to be responsible for them. I can just refer back to it. I usually start the process in November — I’m a get-organized kind of person. It’s for my self-care as it allows me to have a little bit more freedom mentally. I also think about what will be my recharge practices mentally.”

Such recharge rituals can be as small as practicing mindfulness while showering and thinking about how the water feels touching your body, or even intently listening to music or a sermon or actively reading and comprehending written works.


7. Be OK With Not Making A Huge Transformation

So, you’ve rejected the concept of proclaiming ‘new year, new me,’ but you've still identified ways for which you’d like to make changes in the new year. While that’s a positive mindset, Poole recommends you still be realistic with yourself and not expect to make huge transformations just on the strength of a new calendar. 

“When people start to think of ways to take care of themselves or develop new relationships, improve relationships, improve work environments, whatever that is, it’s this idea that if I’m seeking change, then something’s wrong,” Poole said. “When in actuality, sometimes the change is just the newness that comes with doing something different. We changed our calendars, but just because we turned a page doesn’t mean we throw everything away that occurred from January to December last year.” 

A way to better navigate this concept is to identify goals over reinvention.

“Goals always have an endpoint,” Poole said. “Reinvention is evolutionary and ongoing — the goal is its sub-category. Everything could be working and I’m building or adding to it, or I’m doing nothing and that’s OK. You’re not a loss because of that. You have to be OK with not making a huge transformation." 


If you’re having trouble kicking off your new year, Dr. Poole suggests you explore some of the following resources: Lifeline Crisis Chat, Psychology Today, The Emerald Couch Podcast (Apple or SoundCloud) and Higher Calling #BookTalkTuesdays.

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Leslie D. Rose is a Jersey-born, Xavier-educated, veteran journalist, editor, photographer, and poet. She is also a lipstick aficionado, Babyface superfan, loving cat mother, and her whole Blatina self at all times. She formerly served as the Copy Editor and Weekend Editor at Blavity News.