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How New Year’s Goals Give Life Direction (And Keep Fears At Bay)!

I love the freshness of a new year and the promise it holds for a fresh start. Most do. It’s a welcomed tradition celebrated across many if not all cultures and faith traditions.

Have you ever wondered why? How is it that even closed hearts dare to open, if only a bit or for a moment, to celebrate the possibility for a new beginning?

A New Year represents starting anew.

The yearning for a fresh start is no small matter to the human heart. You have inborn drives for excellence, among others, to meaningfully contribute to life, to find purpose in connection to life and others. Wow. That’s a tall order.This new beginning is also a reminder to examine your life and to set new goals or resolutions. If this sparks fear or discomfort inside you, consider that some low level fear is vital to inspire you to action and to energize momentum. The fear of not being authentically you, to sing the song that only you can sing, for example, is a healthy fear. I call this “pzazz” fear!

This speaks to your design. As a human being you are a walking miracle, in case you hadn’t noticed. You are amazingly equipped with everything you need to live and create an awesome life—a capacity that surpasses what your senses can comprehend.

What stops you from realizing this capacity?

The only thing that has ever stopped you from taking action to realize your dreams is another kind of fear.

It comes in many guises. Past mistakes, hurts, disappointments, unfulfilled expectations, let down hopes, and so on. What do these have in common? Fear, in particular, survival fears, such as rejection or abandonment or inadequacy, among others. Whereas a bit of pzazz fear is healthy, as long as the overall momentum is driven by love, survival fears are unhealthy because they jam the brain’s communication network.

Survival fear plays tricks on the brain.

When the brain is in survival mode, its ability to use Oxytocin is impaired, thus, the felt sense of love, safety and connection from the release of this chemical into the bloodstream is not available. Loved ones may be working overtime to signal their love, however, you remain oblivious to their efforts.

Unless you know how to calm yourself to release Oxytocin into your bloodstream, you won’t feel safe enough or open to receive or give love.

Here’s the scoop! Emotional pain is no longer a threat!

Your physical survival only depended on your emotional survival in the first years of your life. Babies don’t survive without love. Now, as an adult, while it may be painful or upsetting to you when a loved one makes a threat, or criticizes, or gets dismissive, you have everything you need inside to deal with it.

You just need to know you can. Beliefs are powerful. In fact, depending on your beliefs, you could choose to use the negative energy of anger or disappointment to change the world in positive ways!

Ordinary people do this all the time. Take Nelson Mandela, for example. He was just another ordinary man who discovered this extraordinary power inside.

Once you have survived childhood, congratulations are in order. It means that, now, even if every person on this planet acted to “reject” you, you can handle the pain and still feel and radiate love. If you still question whether this is possible, read “Man’s Search for Meaning,” the life experience in a WWII concentration camp by psychological theorist, Victor Frankl.

Keep fears at bay with goals that inspire you!

As the old year comes to a close, reminders to set goals for the New Year are all around. For many, this stirs feelings of anxiety or dread inside. Like others, you may be telling yourself, “been there, done that, what’s the point?” Still others toss it around in their heads, as if deciding between two evils. Some give in at the last moment and throw something together. It’s really no wonder that New Year’s resolutions have gotten a bad rap.

It’s that fear thing again…unless you have a contingency plan to handle fear, and know how to set goals that inspire and energize momentum, the real reason you didn’t stick with New Year’s resolutions in the past just may be not managing and using fear to your advantage.

Setting goals is one of the most important things you can do to take charge of the direction of your life and keep survival fears at bay. Used correctly, goals provide you with a refresh button that you can use at any moment, as needed, to get instant results, as you do on your computer!

Why you really need a refresh button!

The yearning to start anew is an ever-present possibility to practice being all you are designed to be. The drive to find purpose in love and meaningful connection is universal.

As you learn how to break through fears in order to realize your dreams, you discover being authentically you is not just a good choice, it’s your destiny. When you are authentic emotional states, your actions are energized by love and gratitude, and never out survival fears.

Setting goals and facing your survival fears is part of taking ownership of the forces that shape the direction of your life. Logic does not shape your behaviors. Emotions do. Love takes you in one direction, fear in another. Which do you want to be the driving force in your life?

The desire for a fresh start is a gift.

Even though many only open it only once a year, if that, the yearning for a fresh start is a gift. It represents the desire to go of past mistakes, to forgive failures, your own and other’s. You need to do this to do more than just survive, to fully live and thrive, to care for your emotional and physical health, and to refresh your mind and body back to peak performance states. (It’s called Oxytocin.)

Your desire for a fresh start is a gift because it primes the pump of your heart in healthy ways. Here’s how it works:

  • You need hope to open your heart to believe in your capacity to create a bright future regardless the situation.
  • You need belief in yourself, others, life to accept yourself fully and completely without conditions.
  • You need your own acceptance to be your authentic self, open to learn, grow, play—and to never be afraid of making mistakes.
  • You need your own love to empathically connect to others, your compassion, and creativity.

Simply put, only love will break through the strongholds of survival fears imprinted in cellular memory. You need a refresh button to energize your passion to break through fears so that, from now on, you see goal setting as a healthy part of life, and enjoy realizing your New Year’s resolutions each year.

If setting New Year’s resolutions or goals hasn’t worked for you in the past, do reconsider. Then, be on the look out for my next three posts, a three-part discussion that will cover:

  1. How to prepare the stage of your mind to break through fear and achieve your goals.
  2. What exact steps to take to set inspiring and absolutely achievable goals.
  3. How to maintain your momentum and gains throughout the year.

In whatever way you celebrate the chiming of a new year, my wish for you is to enjoy and fully embrace the possibility for a new beginning!

How New Year’s Goals Give Life Direction (And Keep Fears At Bay)!

Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik motivates clients to break free of anxiety, emotion reactivity, and other addictive patterns, to awaken wholehearted relating to self and other. She is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, What a Narcissist Means When He Says 'I Love You'": Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit, or visit on her two Facebook fan pages DrAthenaStaik and DrStaik

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APA Reference
Staik, A. (2011). How New Year’s Goals Give Life Direction (And Keep Fears At Bay)!. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 25 Jul 2011
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