New year’s resolutions are a tried-and-true marker for a new year. However, more recently, people are opting out entirely or looking to reframe the idea. Enter: the in and out lists compiled by creators and celebrities highlighting things they want more of in 2023 and line items they’re ready to throw out. But, of course, only some trends that float around in social media are good for us. So we, of course, check in with two experts— Rheeda Walker, Ph.D. psychologist and author of The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health, and Dr. Alfiee Breland- Noble, psychologist, author, and founder of a mental health nonprofit, The AAKOMA Project and host of the mental health podcast Couched in Color with Dr. Alfiee—to see if this is a social trend to adopt or sit out.
“I love this trend,” Rheeda Walker, Ph.D. tells ESSENCE. “A healthy, functioning approach to life is all about growth and balance. That means we must steadily remove those activities and aspects of our thinking that no longer serve us while acquiring and engaging in more of what we need to fulfill in life.” For example, she notes what served us in our early 20s may not be suitable for us as we reach our 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond.
So, how do we use this trend for good instead of an overzealous list of things we must check off?
Get to writing, not typing.
“Writing is important because it allows us to mindfully reflect on what is important,” Walker explains. “The research is consistent: we can absorb and work with information differently if written.” So, typing in the notes section of your phone may yield only some of the benefits of writing down your ins and outs. So, grab a pretty notebook and a smooth writing pen, and write.
Give yourself time to think about your needs.
“Particularly for Black women, we’re so often not given the space to consider our own needs because we’re so often socialized and encouraged to think about everybody else before ourselves,” Dr. Alfiee Breland-Noble tells us. Additionally, she calls out how living up to “Black Excellence,” “Black Girl Magic,” can create a lot of pressure to show up in a way that leans toward perfectionism and achievement without leaving room to be human. So use this moment to center your needs for the new year and beyond.
Stop performing and critiquing.
“A lot of us don’t [think about our needs] because we’re afraid of what’s going to come up and come out,” Breland-Noble tells us. “So you do performative because performative looks good.” She also notes that list-making can bring out our inner critic when we should be giving ourselves grace. One way to do this, “Think of your best friend because they’re the one person you’re least likely to judge. We owe ourselves that same courtesy,” she tells us. “I always tell people to be as nice to themselves as they are to the person they care most about in their life.” Breland-Noble believes the approach will likely reveal a shorter, more thoughtful list because you’re not trying to perform. Instead, you’re just saying what you feel.
Check-In with yourself.
Breland-Noble says to look at these in and out lists as a touch point. Firstly, she says, check in to see how you’re stacking up against the aspirations you set. Secondly, she says to take stock of where your head was when you created your list. For example, if your goal was to set boundaries with a particular person, and you see that you’ve done just that, she says it’s much less about the specific person. “It’s more about congratulating yourself for setting boundaries important for good mental health.”
Have some fun.
The ins and outs might feel like goals, but Walker says to use this list as a marker to bring more joy to your world this year. “Honestly, most of us have enough goals,” she tells us. “I know I do. What we don’t have enough of is joy. And we can all use more joy in our lives because life stays life-ing.” Whoa. She’s not wrong.
“We must try on multiple pairs of jeans until we find the brand and style that works for our body type. We have to try out a few in-and-out lists until we get the best balance to meet our individual needs … and then continue adjusting each month, a quarter of the year, or at the beginning of each new year.”