Happy New Year! I know I'm a bit late to the celebration, but I've been taking my time to ease in to the year and taking the pressure off, and it's been a much easier and smoother transition than striving for a brand new me, when honestly, I'm still in the mood to hibernate a little. So here's how to reimagine your resolutions and ease into your new year too.
It’s that time of year where we try to reinvent ourselves for the New Year, feeling the pressure to make resolutions and set goals for the year ahead in the hopes of feeling like a new person.. But why do we pick the coldest time of year, when the days are still pretty dark aside from those hours many of us are either working or stuck in an office, and after one of the busiest and most expensive months?
It makes no sense to me, and while I was on my morning walk yesterday, soaking up the cold air, bright sunshine, I began to notice just how dormant nature is right now. The outside world is still hibernating, trees are still bare, wildlife quiet and hidden, the ground frozen and crunchy. Yet we humans strive for awakening - maybe we should take a leaf out of nature's books (no pun intended) and reconsider how we approach this time of year, to make for more successful goal setting and achievements throughout the year.
Side note: as a disclaimer I would like to say I do not go for a walk every morning, particularly when it’s so damn cold outside - sometimes I try to do yoga to get my body moving, sometimes I do neither and just sit outside for a short while to feel some fresh air. But I am not preaching from a high and mighty place of perfection.
Anyway, noticing the continuation of hibernation outside, and after delivering an online webinar last week all about reimagining resolutions, I got thinking about more practical ways to ease into the year, instead of piling on the pressure to become a new version of ourselves.
Of course, there is something to be said for the New Year, giving us a new chapter, a fresh start and leaving things that no longer serve us in the year just gone. But while we celebrate the turn of midnight, and get used to writing or saying 2024, there isn’t actually a categorical shift between the years. Like our birthdays there’s not a point we can pin where we feel a year older, it’s a gradual shift and perhaps allowing a gradual shift into goals and the new year would find us more success than going full steam ahead with new habits, rigid goals and huge changes.
And to be really honest for a moment, that is exactly why I'm writing this two weeks into January, because I needed some time to ease into the year. To get back into writing, thinking and coaching after a restful, but busy Christmas break. And if i had this ready for January 1st i feel that wouldn’t quite align with this message. So you might think it’s a bit late for this content, or even to start thinking or rethinking your resolutions, but we are only 18 days into the year with 347 to go - so just chill out for a moment.
The Stats Are Not On Our Side
According to Drive Research, last year only 9% of resolutions are kept all year round, and 80% had flown out the window by February. Which on closer inspection is not at all unexpected. Between utterly ambiguous ideas to improve our lives, like ‘get fit’, ‘lose weight’, ‘quit this’, ‘quit that’, and the challenges life continuously throws at us it is unsurprising that most of us don’t stick to resolutions or keep up with goals throughout the year.
Contrary to popular belief, we are not useless or unable to change ourselves, but modern life isn’t set up to support these things unless we have a good foundation to manage the challenges, stress levels and daily interruptions. Whether it’s kids getting another sick bug from school wiping out the entire household for a week, the washing machine giving up throwing a spanner in the budget and laundry routine, or the nonstop notifications and keeping us glued to our screens with little free time to spend elsewhere it is no wonder resolutions aren’t our priority.
And when we’re actually still quite tired, despite maybe having a couple of weeks or at least a few days off work over Christmas, we have probably still been rather busy seeing friends and family, staying up late partying the nights away and indulging in festive feasts, it’s even less surprising that we’re not feeling the most motivated version of ourselves. So to then strive towards these vague resolutions like getting fitter, improving finances, or quitting drinking isn’t setting ourselves up for success because we don’t actually know what we’re working towards.
This is a recipe for disaster, which we all seem to follow routinely each year only to be left feeling like a disaster. The odds are stacked against us yet each year we pile on this pressure to do better, be better, and feel better about ourselves yet the opposite happens, so this year I invite you to ease into the new year and sack off the ‘new you’ hype.
The Reimagined Recipe For Easing Into 2024:
Take this time to reflect on the year just gone, rather than rush to think of things to change, consider what was going quite well, you enjoyed doing or you wish you had more time for, that you would like to continue. Bringing positive habits forward is much easier than wiping out ones we no longer want, helping us ease into the year with a boost.
Check in with your personal values, and consider what could bring you closer to those. Values are beliefs and principles that are important to the way we live and work, like being open-minded, authentic or creative for example. What might help you feel more authentic or creative in your life?
Recognise and work on accepting where you are, without judgement or criticism, or thinking about how much further you have or want to go. Soak up what’s currently going on for you, the good, the bad and the ugly and show yourself some compassion. We haven’t been through the easiest time for the last few years so if you feel ‘behind’ or like you should be doing better - stop that please. Give yourself a break.
Step back from the hustle and bustle of the ‘New Year, New Me’ spiel. I’d love to know who coined this phrase, and really check in with how they are doing.. Anyway, this might look like limiting your time on social media, trying not to worry about what everyone else is doing, or taking more time just for yourself rather than getting bogged down with all the fitness/weight loss/lifestyle changes that are thrown at us during January.
Simply sack it all off, and survive this chilly, dark month as the rest of nature is. We don’t need to set goals, have resolutions ready or make big changes right now. In fact, that might be your goal for January. Just take each day as it comes, do your best to keep up with life’s demands and get cosy in an evening. The other living things in the world aren’t trying to thrive right now, and no one’s making the trees feel bad for not growing their leaves back yet, neither do you.
If you’re feeling motivated that is truly great, I applaud you and keep going making those steps towards your wants, needs and goals. But if you’re not, you are not alone. We don’t need more pressure in life so try not to add to it in your personal goals. Instead, use the time to rest and recuperate from the busy months we’ve just been through, start thinking about your year ahead and what you might want to achieve, and how it’s possible to get there without making massive waves in your life, or just keep living your life, your way.
Keep an eye out for my next blog on mindset shifts to help with goal setting and moving forward - because we want to keep doing that, we just don’t need to get started right away. Ease into 2024 the honest way.