So, it’s that time of year again. As in the start of a new one. Exciting right? And this year it’s supposed to be EVEN MORE exciting because there’s a zero at the end so it’s actually a whole new decade too.
To be honest, until recently, I never really knew how I felt about this time of year. There’s a sense of hope for the year ahead but also a natural inclination to snuggle up and hibernate through the rest of the winter. There’s a warm glow left over from all the merriment of Christmas and New Year celebrations, coupled with a tinge of sadness that it’s all over for another year. Did we enjoy it as much as we could? Did we do everything we wanted to?
And then there’s that whole ‘new year new you’ nonsense and the resolutions thing.
I’m going to just come out say that I absolutely detest new year’s resolutions. With a passion. For 4 reasons.
- Because I don’t understand why we have to wait for the first day of a new year to make changes for the better.
There is never a perfect time for anything and hanging around waiting for 1 day out of 365 (or even 366 this year) to start doesn’t seem very sensible to me. The right time is now, whenever now is. Baby steps, all year round. Little by little, that’s how changes are made. Not grand gestures on Jan 1st. Plus change is about evolution isn’t it? About moulding and adapting as you go…not blindly trying to stick to something daft you came up with on a whim on Jan 1st.
- Because they don’t work. End of.
There’s loads of research and science out there (which I’m too lazy to look up and reference right now) that shows how and why new year’s resolutions fail. Usually by 20th January. Mostly because the goals we set are normally too rigid and unrealistic. Too big and not at all practical. And because we seem to have this all or nothing approach. For example, somebody who’s never before set foot in a gym vows to sign up and go 4 times a week. Which they do. For a week. Before realising that was ridiculous and they can’t keep it up so they stop altogether and eat a giant Toblerone to console themselves. Maybe a better idea would have been to vow to walk for 5 minutes a day a few times a week. Then 10minutes, then when that becomes a habit, add in some weights etc. Build on it as you go, scale it back if you get ahead of yourself. Little by little.
Build in some room for messing up. Some people work best going cold turkey…but many of us don’t. Whatever it is we’re vowing to do, chances are we’re going to balls it up at least once. Cue the harsh self chat: “I’m SO useless, I knew I couldn’t do it. WHY did I have to eat/drink/smoke that!? I’ve RUINED it now. There’s no point, I give up”. Or, how about you’re human, it doesn’t matter. Take it in your stride, pick yourself up and start again?
- Because new year’s resolutions always seem to somehow be so unkind to ourselves.
They tend to start from a point of negativity. I’m so fat, I need to stop eating in 2020. I’m so unfit, I’m going to go to the gym 15 times a day. I’m so rubbish with money, I’m going to do a budget and stick to it. Ugh I’m so hungover and disgusting I am NEVER drinking again. etc.
Self improvement? great. Becoming a little bit better at whatever it is? Fine. Shoulding and needing and musting all over the shop? Not good.
To me, New Year’s resolutions seem to be more about punishment and self loathing than about a fresh start. I’d like them a lot more if they were about being nicer to yourself, not continuing to berate yourself. There’s so much pressure, and not the good kind.
And 4. Because, like the reason SO many things go wrong, we start with the answer rather than the question.
With implementation before strategy. With action before values. With what before why. We say “I know, my new year’s resolution is to give up chocolate”…why? What will that give you? Or allow you to do/be? What problem is it solving? What need is it answering?
Do we really ever ask ourselves why we’re setting these resolutions anyway? Other than because somebody somewhere decided it’s just what you do in January? Why is it we want to lose weight? Why do we want to save money? Why do we want to get fitter? So that…what? What is it that’s truly important to us?
I bet, if we asked “why?” enough it’d all boil down to the same answer. To be happier.
Which of us has honestly never said, “I’ll be happier when…”? Problem is that logic is entirely flawed and back to front. Read Shawn Achor’s ‘Happiness Advantage’ and you’ll see that being happier is what helps you achieve success and not the other way around. Every time.
So for a start rather than resolutions how about a few vows to ourselves?
- In 2020 I vow to be nicer and kinder to myself. To not have a nervous breakdown every time I slip, make a mistake, fall behind and get it ‘wrong’. I promise to accept imperfect over striving for ‘perfect’, to give myself a break, to keep my goals, ambitions and expectations realistic and my reactions to not meeting them in check. For 2020 I vow to believe that, and behave as if, I am enough.
- In 2020 I vow to be happier (and yes, it is a choice to own your own happiness). To be grateful every day. To find opportunity in hardship. To smile and laugh and share. To do more of what I know makes me happy and heed less that which does not. To be true to myself so that my thoughts, feelings and actions do not clash, but match. To stop and notice and savour. To cherish every moment so that when I get to this point next year, I can look back and say, wow, 2020, what a year that was.
So no, I’m not making new year’s resolutions this year and I never have.
Which in the past has kind of left me in this weird limbo like void I mentioned at the start. Not failing at made up resolutions but sort of not really going anywhere either.
So now, what I AM doing is respecting the powerfully reflective nature of winter and using this time of year as a chance to really just reflect, to check in. To celebrate what went well last year (decade!) and learn from what didn’t go exactly as I’d have liked. To hone my values, to set my intentions and to get clear on 4 things:
- How do I want to feel (or not feel) this year?
- What do I want to create more of going forward?
- What new things am I open to receiving this year?
- What am I willing to let go of for that to happen?
And slowly, slowly, bit by bit, these pieces help the rest of my life shift into place. I can check back in with these pillars as I go, using them to help with my goal setting and planning. They’re shaping the direction I take and the choices I make. As I move out of hibernation and towards spring I can feel a sense of excitement, purpose and energy bubbling below the surface. Not because I’ve said I’m going to go to the gym a million times a week or stop eating things I like eating, but because I know what it is I want and I know why. I know how it is I want to feel. I know what makes me happy and how to get more of it in my life. I know HOW to use my time to get me where I want to be.
EVEN though I’m a mum, and a wife, with a house to run and a family to look after and a million other commitments besides. That’s why this stuff is doubly important for me…and you. Because without it we drift, we let stuff and life happen at us. We put ourselves at the beck and call of everybody else until we just resent it all. We let our time be dictated by everything and everyone else and that sure as hell does NOT get us to feeling how we want to feel. Does it?
So, enough about me, what about you?
Do you know what you want? How you want to feel? What makes you happy? Would you like to look back on 2020 and think wow what a year that was? As opposed to it being just another year you got through?
Would you like to purposefully use YOUR time for YOU this year? Live with a little more intention rather than just letting it all happen at you? Curate your motherhood experience consciously, rediscover what makes you tick and get more of it?
Why not come and join my 6 week Journey to Joy group coaching experience starting Jan 20th and for just £199 I can help you with ALL of that. Just click here to send me a message and let’s chat x