It’s tempting to be all or nothing over New Year – big plans, resolutions, new starts, giving up vices, many of which don’t last far into January. In my experience, it’s lots of little but consistent tweaks to your behaviour that actually make a sustained difference; not boom or bust, not all or nothing, not great declarations of a new you.
For me, New Year is not an opportunity for fixing everything you don’t like about yourself or your life and it’s certainly not a time for trying to become the person you think you should be. It is a time for reflection for sure, it is a time for looking at what you might want to bring with you into the new year and what you might leave behind, and it is a time for honouring and celebrating all that you are, all that you have done and all that you have learned over the last year.
When you do this it becomes easier to focus on the human being you want to be (and I do mean ‘want to be’ not ‘think you should be’ here), the tweaks you may have to make to be that person and the outcomes you get from being that person. The crucial motivator here is, like many things, the reason behind it. When this is driven from a place of value – you truly understand why you are doing it and why it’s important to you, then you have a much greater likelihood of consistency into 2020.
Here’s an example, two smokers both vow to quit – the first understands it’s bad for his health, he knows it’s expensive and he truly intends to stop for good this time. Somehow stuff gets in the way, a few days off – then one cigarette in the pub won’t hurt, then another and he never quite quits. The second man overhears his teenage daughter say she & her friends aren’t sitting by him because he stinks of cigarettes – he stops the next day. These men were my uncle and father – it took my uncle a further 20 years and respiratory illness to actually stop. My father didn’t share his reason for stopping until several decades later – but in that moment he decided to stop, the price of enjoying a cigarette was too high. In the days and weeks that followed many little tweaks to my dad’s routine, to the way he showed up, to the rewards he gave himself made it easier, but his reason for changing was the thing that kept him going.
If you are considering big changes, or you have a raft of resolutions, think about why they matter to you, how your life will be different and whether this is a sustainable decision. Setting yourself up to fail is likely to do you more harm than not making a change in the first place. If you have a compelling enough reason absolutely go for it, New Year is as good a time as any, focus on the outcome of the change not just the journey and celebrate your success along the way.
If, on the other hand, you don’t have compelling reasons (of your own) to make changes, or you’ve already given up on New Year’s resolutions, think about this – you can choose to be the best version of yourself any day or everyday; you can decide what you want your life to be like, as well as who and what you want in it, anytime and you can start living towards that right now, or tomorrow or the next day. It is your life.
New Year is a focus not an absolute. You don’t miss the boat if you don’t get on it at midnight or sometime tomorrow. It’s better to understand your journey, why you are making it, what the destination looks like, what you might encounter along the way before you get on the boat. This way you are more likely to stay on the journey. Notice I’m not talking maps or plans here, I’m talking understanding and connection.
Connection is a personal thing, one we get from introspection and understanding ourselves – not from reacting to circumstances or what happens to us – although this can both fuel us and act as a catalyst for change. I believe we can all be the person we want to be – it is about how we show up, what we stand for, how we behave, our attitudes and our values.
This New Year, gift yourself the time to decide who you want to be, what you want your life to look like and what tweaks you might need to make to get there. You have a whole year – it doesn’t have to be today.
I have been reflecting on the things I’m bringing into 2020, the things I am leaving behind – I will be enjoying my usual releasing and forgiving ritual by the fire at midnight. I am looking forward to 2020 and intend to ease gracefully into the new decade.
How ever you choose spend New Year’s Eve / New Year’s Day I hope you are kind to yourself and wish you all the happiness and success you want in 2020.