Happy New Year! Not only have we started a new year, we have embarked on a new decade. And as with all endings, new beginnings arise and with those opportunity to evaluate one’s life and do things differently going forward. As author Vern McLellan said, what the new year brings us depends a great deal on what we bring to the new year.
After having slept in every morning over the holidays, I have found it particularly hard to get out of bed this past week. Every morning upon hearing my alarm, I have counted the hours till I could hide under my duvet again; such mornings, I swear I was meant for hibernation. I have found leaving my house just past 7am incredible difficult and I have lacked opportunity to enjoy whatever little daylight we have this time of year.
This morning, I went to the gym where I overheard several conversations about new year’s resolutions, and it reminded me that many adults use the new year to turn over a new leaf. Every year, people set about wanting to lose weight, exercise more, live healthier, save more money, quit smoking etc. etc. Most new year’s resolutions are about wanting to live healthier. Some people have a list as long as their arm of things they want to change; and as the new year goes on, most experience not being able to fulfil their resolutions and retreat back to old habits.
Kicking old habits can be challenging; and the post-holiday slump in combination with the darkness of the Danish winter doesn’t exactly spur us on to bounce about implementing changes left, right and centre. Once everyday life sets in and you realise how difficult it is to maintain even the best of intentions of living a healthier life, it is easy to give up and when doing so, many experience feelings of failure, shame and with these anxiety about not being good enough.
Lots have been written about the change process and how to create SMART goals. Lots have been written about the benefits and down falls of new year’s resolutions; and some even believe we should ditch new year’s resolutions all together. But perhaps, it is time we look differently at changing our lives.
Every day of the year is an opportunity to start making changes, but somehow there is a feeling of a collective momentum in relation to us all opening the year with resolutions. Given that many struggle with the dark, a general lack of energy and that some even suffer from seasonal affective disorder, perhaps it’s time for us to reconsider using this time of the year for drastic changes.
Rather than setting ourselves up for failure and whatever uncomfortable emotions failure instigates, we could either stop making resolutions all together or leave them till lighter and longer days where most of us feel more energetic.
Perhaps winter should be a time of self-compassion, of rest and of time spent doing less rather than depleting ourselves completely by implementing a series of changes at a time of year where many operate from an already more or less empty tank, energy wise.
By doing less, we often connect better to ourselves and in the learning that lies in this connection, we often experience change or at least truly connect with what is most important to us. Speaking of hibernation, nature closes for the winter to bloom again come spring; perhaps it is time for humans to do something similar and not always live life in the fast lane.
Perhaps, the transition from one year to the next, from one decade to the next, could be better used for self-exploration and reflection rather than a catalyst for sweeping character change.