A DBT Exercise for Mindfully Achieving 2019 Goals 

New Year, New You! Well, not exactly.

Personally, I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions (especially diets).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about self-improvement. But there’s something about Mid-January that seems to make everyone discard their plans. And that just doesn’t work for me. 

So in hopes of gaining long-term results, in 2018 I opted for goals instead of resolutions. Graduate college, land two internships, have professional headshots taken, have my writing published, make a noticeable difference in the eating disorder community, and so on. 

I tracked my progress using lists and a bullet journal. I worked weekends and pulled all-nighters. By September, I accomplished almost everything listed above (don’t ask for my headshots). I spent most of October exhausted. In November, I realized it was time to relearn self-care. 

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In December, I watched my friends post their Year in Review on Instagram and Facebook from my doctor’s office. I felt unaccomplished. Looking back, I don’t even really remember celebrating anything I achieved. I simply crossed it off on my list and moved on to the next big thing. 

I started to dig deep and think about what I really wanted from 2019. Health, meaningful work, and time set aside for creativity. 

If you’re running the risk of burning out in the New Year, I encourage you to try one of my favorite DBT Mindfulness skills - The Single Minute Exercise (McKay, Wood, & Brantley, 2007, p. 67).

Single Minute Exercise

The purpose of this exercise is to improve your sense of time and make you more aware of the present moment. 

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  • Grab a stopwatch (or open a stopwatch app) and find a quiet place to sit where you won’t be disturbed. Now, watch your timer and familiarize yourself with what 60 seconds of doing nothing but being present feels like. 

  • Next, take a deep breath and try to time yourself on your own. Allow what you perceive as 60 seconds to pass. Do not look at your stopwatch until you think the minute was up. How close to a minute were you? 

  • Start to reflect. How do the results of this test relate to your current list of goals? Are you always frantically rushing in fear of running out of time or falling behind? Or are you always pushing things off and waiting for a better time to start? 

When discussing resolutions and goals for 2019, it’s clear why procrastination can be a problem. It’s easy to committing to recovery. 

But many of us run the risk of attempting to accomplish so much in January that we burn out the rest of the year. Stop and think. When’s the last time you’ve allowed yourself to rest and given yourself a pat on the back for all you’ve already accomplished? 

Take a few moments to reassess your goals. Are they reasonable? Are you prioritizing time for fun and self-care?

It’s okay (and so important) to adjust our expectations and give ourselves time to breathe.

Whether you need to overcome procrastination or perfectionism to reach your 2019 goals, mindfulness makes all the difference. 

Exercise Source:

  • McKay, M., Wood, J. C., & Brantley, J. (2007). The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills 

  • Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal 

  • Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation & Distress Tolerance. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger  Publications, Inc.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathleen Connolly

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Kathleen is the leader of the Suffolk County Chapter and a graduate student at Stony Brook University. As a Project HEAL Chapter Leader, Kathleen is dedicated to changing the way we speak about mental illness so we can meet our loved ones and ourselves with compassion and support. During her spare time, she writes about mental health, work, and creativity.

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