Why I Don’t Do New Year’s Resolutions
It's New Year’s Day. Social media, the internet, and communication in general is a buzz with bold declarations for a new and improved year ahead... Renewed commitments to work, relationships, hobbies, spirituality, and especially health. Advertisements abound for the latest in exercise, and especially diet programs……Everyone and their dog is declaring their intentions to hit the gym, buy a treadmill, join a Pilates class, go paleo/gluten free/vegan/local/hormone diet……the list goes on.
I get it. I really do. The New Year seems like the ‘right’ time to turn over a new leaf….and it very well might be for many people. BUT….not necessarily for everyone…..maybe not for you, and most definitely not for me.
Here are 8 reasons that I gave up declaring New Year’s Resolutions a long time ago:
1. The beginning of January is a vulnerable time – post holiday exhaustion, reflecting on, and processing all that has happened over the previous year, the love/hate relationship I have with getting back to a routine…..all adds up to a really crappy time to start something new, and sustain it. My theory is, why set myself up for failure?
2. I am just not a bandwagon jumper, and I can't stand being told what to do. In fact, I admittedly sometimes go out of my way to contradict ‘the rules’…at least the ones that don’t resonate. Right, wrong, or otherwise, it’s just who I am. I've learned to embrace the rebel in me, and stop looking to justify, hide, or tone it down. It might not make ‘sense’, but it feels authentic to me….and authentic feels good. So, no thanks, to all the New Year - New Me hype.
3. I'm much more likely to follow through on something, if I have started it because I was INSPIRED to, not because I felt pressured too. And New Year’s resolutions, almost always feel like pressure to me.
4. My guide for making any kind of decision or ‘resolution’, is always….’Does it feel aligned with my truth, and with 'right' timing? I've learned that going with the flow, and with natural cycles, is a way more efficient and effective way to get things done. If I'm not feeling it on January 1st or 2nd, or 12th, I'm not forcing it.
5. I prefer to enjoy the holiday season in all its calorie laden, late night, social gathering glory, than to spend it stressing over how many pounds I’m gaining, and feeling guilty about overindulgence or lack of productivity. The cool thing is, that using my feelings as a guide, doing my best to stay mindful and in the moment, usually means I enter the New Year with minimal damage to my waist line, self-esteem or conscience. Come January 1st, I don’t really feel like I need to make some huge, sweeping change to how I have been living. It’s more like just a continuation of the previous year’s progress. In my experience, the tortoise was right…..slow and steady always wins over springing out of the gate, all over confident and hopped up on ‘new year/new you’ propaganda.
6. And speaking of propaganda……I refuse to buy into it (see #2). The megalomaniacal fear mongering machine that starts pushing out ads the last week of December, about how you really must use their new program/buy a membership to their gym/or order their new piece of exercise equipment, makes me CRAZY…..and I will NEVER cave to something that intentionally tries to make people feel crappy about themselves, in order to make a buck.
7. I consider my birthday to be more of my own personal New Year. I don’t know if it’s because it falls in March, close to Spring, when energy picks up, and there seems to be more hope in the air, but it’s a more meaningful time to me. So, I tend to do more intention setting around that time, and sometimes in the Fall, after the lazy days of summer, when routine picks up again. Over the last year, I've started working more closely with the moon cycles, and often use new moons as a time to set intentions.
8. If I do have thoughts of what I would like to experience in the New Year, it’s usually bigger picture vision type stuff, and less specific, goal-oriented declarations. I don’t do traditional goal setting, period. The thought of it makes me shudder. I also tend to keep any ‘New Year’s intention’ type thoughts to myself, or share them only with my husband, rather than declaring them to the world before they are ready to fully bloom. Taking my cues from nature, it's like the ‘seed planting’ phase, or that point in the year when not much is happening above the earth, but lots is going on underneath. Nurturing my ideas/plans/intentions quietly, personally, and methodically, gives them more potency. I may start the leg work in January by signing up for a new class, or something of the sort, but I don't fire up all engines at once. It's the kind of practical magic that works for me, and feels right.
The bottom line is, if you aren’t feeling it, don’t worry. To my knowledge, there is NO universal commandment that says ‘Thou shalt set New Year's resolutions’. You are not required to jump on the bandwagon just because you feel it’s what you ‘should’ do, or because everyone around you is doing it. Those are not good reasons to make a change. For any kind of change to be sustainable, it doesn’t necessarily have to feel easy, but it definitely has to feel right.
If you DO want to mark the New Year in some significant way, but the tradition of resolution setting just doesn’t resonate with you, you are welcome to borrow our ritual. I am a huge fan of ritual. It always feels so grounding, liberating, powerful and sacred to me. Much more so than declaring resolutions. It's the kind of practical magic that I use in my personal life, and in my work with clients.
A few years ago, we started performing the New Year’s ritual of writing down what we want to let go of that no longer serves us, and then burning it up. We each take some paper, write down the stuff we want to say bye-bye to, and not carry forward with us into the New Year. Our kids even get in on the action. We are not required to share anything on our lists with each, other unless we want to. Then, we take turns burning our lists and watching our troubles, fears, bad habits, stresses, undesirable experiences, etc., float up the chimney in a puff of smoke.
We follow this up with each of us drawing a personal guidance card from one of my favourite oracle decks. Then we chose one card to signify an overall message to our whole family. It's a deeply emotional, meaningful, and incredibly bonding experience, a ritual we will hold on to.
Whether you choose to set resolutions, perform a ritual, or something else entirely, I wish you a year filled with ease, love, light, self-compassion and everything that feeds your soul.
Shine On Brave & Beautiful Souls!