Every year there is a mad dash to make promises on New Year’s Eve, New Year, new me and all that jazz, and every year begins with a spate of broken promises, some new start that is. This year there is the added stress of the turning of the decade, social media is rife with it, talk about pressure. So this year I suggest you throw New Year’s resolutions out the window and here´s why.
Winter is the season for slowing down and turning inward. Yet we spend the darkest part of the season resisting this call to pause and reflect, to move more slowly, to sleep more. Instead, we push forward, fighting what our bodies and minds need. The silly season brings with it busyness, movement, disruption and overindulgence. We push ourselves into a flurry of activity and our senses are battered by the over-stimulation from lights, music, crowds and food and drink. We stretch our energy, patience and pockets to their limits and our resources are depleted. Do you really think this is the right moment to plan your next year? I certainly don’t.
The best goals are born from a place of introspection and calm, from our higher self rather than from our ego and for most people, including me, the time of year when you hardly know what day of the week it is or when you last ate a vegetable is not a time when we have access to any of that. Wait a few weeks, for the opportunity to go inwards and really slow down and see what you´d like to achieve or change or what you want more of.
By the time New Year’s rolls around we don´t know whether we are coming or going and are very unlikely to be in a state of balance, making it the worst possible time to make plans about the future. You´ve been overindulging, neglecting your exercise routine, your sleep cycle is off and you reach a point when you´re not even sure what day of the week it is. If you´ve lost a loved one or are caring for someone, be it a parent or a child, the holiday season can be wrought with emotion and leave you feeling raw. You really do not want to spend the energy you have left looking at what is not going well in your life and what you want to change?
Give yourself a break. Have a rest instead.
You know the old adage; don’t make a promise when you're happy, don't reply when you're angry and don't decide when you're sad? Well, I would add to that decide how you want your future to look when you are not feeling balanced and centred.
And the last reason not to make New Year’s Resolutions is that so many of them are born of guilt. You swore this year you were going to take it easy during the holidays, you were going to get up early every day and exercise, do some work, eat a healthy breakfast or whatever other promises you didn´t follow through on. Now you feel sluggish, maybe you gained a few pounds, drank a few too many vinos and you feel guilty so you swear you´ll lose ten pounds, exercise more, spend less time binging on Netflix, get off social media.
Goals derived from feelings of guilt and shame are rarely realised. The real reason NY´s resolutions fail is because they come with self-reproach and the implication that you are not good enough. We are hard-wired to avoid pain and therefore any promise we make to ourselves from this place will be pushed aside by our subconscious mind.
If you want to make changes in your life, they need to be made from a place of desire which has a very different energy. They may very well be the same goals, but when they are created within a positive frame it´s easier to overcome the hurdles and get up when you fall. With guilt and shame we abandon our goals at the first sign of difficulty. Do you think it is easier to follow through on a weight loss goal because you feel gross and ugly (shame based) or because you want to feel energised and be able to choose clothes that feel good( desire based) ? I know which one I´ll be using to frame my weight loss goals this year.
When we are exhausted it is easy for our minds to go to a dark place, so turn it around by shining a light on all the good things, savour the small wins as well as the big ones, look back at all the things worth celebrating from 2019- even if you had a tough year, there is always something to celebrate.
What went well? Where did you grow? Where was there lightness and joy? What was your best moment, experience or trip? What are you proud of? What or who made you laugh out loud?
Spend the first few days of the new year reflecting on those moments, there will be time for goal setting in a few weeks when you are back to your routine, your energy levels are higher and you can access all of your wonderful self.
Wishing you a 2020 full of joy and love, growth and most of all self-compassion.