June 19, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 19, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Intention Setting, Not a Reset

January tends to feel like a confusing time of year to me. On the one hand, we are inundated with countless messages of new beginnings. At the same time, we are in the throes of a cold, gray winter and after the day school break, entering a time period with limited holidays or changes to our schedules. It’s the dialectic of a rush coupled with the mundane.

In the past I’ve written to challenge the idea of “new year, new me” as I feel this mindset to be a bit unrealistic; yes, we can aim toward change — but if it’s because the calendar year changes, it doesn’t tend to yield such permanent results. I’ve been thinking about the way January — whether the new year or winter break — can feel like a reset. Perhaps not a “new me” experience, but a time to pause and start over. Students are counting down the days until winter break, many of whom recognize a feeling of burnout. Adults who have the opportunity of some vacation in January also view the end of December or early January as the “home stretch,” and then there is an air of,“I’ll shape up or change my ways after vacation.”

It is unfortunately normal to experience burnout and to wait for some time off. But I believe it is a mistake to view this time as a reset; a reset implies that once the vacation is over all will be different. And while this may be true for some, most people’s entire lives or jobs do not change after a break. Sure, there can be a renewed energy that can actually make certain responsibilities feel more doable, or the time off can provide a much needed opportunity to rest and gather strength and energy to face life’s challenges. But this notion that all will be better after a particular date tends to lead to disappointment and also places the onus on an experience and does not lead to the individual looking inward.

I recall that years ago my husband and I went on a 10-day vacation to Israel. Most of my days off at the time, when I worked full-time at an eating disorder treatment center, had been for Jewish holidays. I had been at the company for some time and amassed more vacation days and was so thrilled to get away. And the trip was incredible. But I did have the experience of feeling as if I never left once I returned. Placing the intention in my time off as life-changing was not helpful and while I can only speak for myself — perhaps others have had a different experience — I would like to propose an alternative.

Instead of thinking of any particular times of year or trips or new opportunities as the sole factor that will lead to change, turn inward. And instead of placing immense pressure on yourself to do everything differently in your life, start slowly. Focus on intention, rather than a reset. Reflect on your current goals by dividing the areas of your life into a pie chart and going through each one: In what ways have I made progress? In what ways can I still grow? What are my goals for the next two months?

By reflecting and focusing on what has led to the burnout, you might be able to notice what is within your reach regarding change, what might be about processing to achieve acceptance, and what rest can reasonably achieve since it can help in some ways. But doing this can allow us to move away from unrealistic expectations or pressures, or the idea that vacation or time off is always the solution. Sometimes it is. But all too often we also need to be actively reflecting on what leads to that desire for vacation and notice what comes from within and what is external rather than just blaming oneself or the circumstances.

I believe this year in particular the upcoming winter break can feel challenging for some people: going away on vacation when our brothers and sisters continue to fight in Israel may not be easy. I believe — and know — that there is a balance to living our lives fully and being thoughtful about those in need. I hope that this year if you do have time off, whether you rest at home or go on that planned trip, that you find meaning and rest in this time and also understand what it is and what it is not. Set intentions, not a reset.


Temimah Zucker, LCSW, works in New York and New Jersey with individuals ages 18 and older who are struggling with mental health concerns, and specializes in working with those looking to heal their relationships between their bodies and souls. Zucker is an advocate and public speaker concerning eating disorder awareness and a metro-New York consultant at Monte Nido. To learn more or to reach her, visit www.temimah.com.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles