New Year, New Who?
It’s New Year’s Eve, and hopes are high.
Dance one year in, kiss one goodbye.
Another chance, another start,
so many dreams to tease the heart.
I don’t need a crowded ballroom,
everything I need is here,
if you’re with me, next year will be the perfect year.
These lyrics from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard sum up how many people feel at the end of the year and by today, 4th January, that sense of euphoric expectation is usually gone.
I used to make New Year’s resolutions but stopped when I found the same things recurring year after year - to stop smoking, for instance. I would last a couple of days and then cave. The same thing if I was in a job I didn’t really enjoy. My resolution would be to find another job by the next New Year, but I would find myself in the same place. So I stopped making resolutions, I haven’t made one in several years now. For a while I did nothing, and in recent years I’ve found myself setting intentions. Intentions for how I want to be present in my life and who I want to be in the world. My main intention for last year was to say yes where I would usually say no and that found me singing on a train (see www.thenew5ifty.com/Everydayfor50Days), broadcasting live on Facebook and Periscope, launching a 5-day micro challenge. I found myself more confident, more outgoing and more inclined to take decisive action.
The idea behind New Year’s resolutions is that we think about the things we want to change about ourselves and our lives and we declare them and that’s great. The problem comes when we realise that change requires a bit of pain and effort. Take my resolution to stop smoking. Come 1st January cigarettes would be broken up, and thrown back into the packet which would then get soaked in water before going in the bin. Then, 2 or 3 days later, I would find myself at the newsagent, buying a packet of 10. I would smoke 1 then break the others up, throw them back in to the packet which I would then soak in water before it went into the bin. I would do this again the next day and the next until I admitted that I was back to smoking. I would then spend the next months beating myself up for failing to quit and become the person I knew I truly was - non-smoking, in control, sorted - instead I couldn’t even stop smoking. This went on for nearly 10 years and when I finally stopped for good (not at New Year) I just stopped.
Looking back, there are 2 reasons I believe I constantly gave up on my resolutions.
1. The pressure that’s put on the 1st January. It’s just a day really, it’s no more magical that any other day, yet we place so much emphasis on it. The reality is it’s probably the worst time to make resolutions when you think about it. It’s at the end of a challenging few weeks when all the talk has been of Christmas and Christmas presents and Christmas gifts and Christmas parties and Christmas this and Christmas that. There is a lot of pressure for everyone to have a good time and which isn’t always possible or realistic. Most people are broke and have a long January wait for their next pay check, or are broke and really scared to see their next credit card bill. The days are probably at their shortest (in Europe), their coldest (in Europe) and their wettest (in the UK) so all there is to look forward to is work and then home and then work, then home. So, the odds are kind of against feeling motivated enough to change who you are.
2. A lot of the time resolutions are made with no kind of plan or idea of how to make it happen. We choose things that require willpower, like smoking and losing weight and exercising and don’t think about how we’re going to achieve it, so we come to the first sign that it’s going to be harder than we thought and by the end of January we are one of the 43% who have thrown our resolutions by the wayside and one of the 80% who will have forgotten we even made a resolution.
For me, setting intentions work. But they’re not enough. An intention is an attitude really, it states the way we want to be, how we are showing up in the world but the road to hell they say is paved with good intentions so, and I learned this in 2017, for me my intentions need to underpin an overarching outcome and that outcome needs to be supported with actions that will reflect the intention and help me to achieve my outcome.
Have you set resolutions for 2018? If yes, then ask yourself:
WHY? – who have you set those resolutions for, yourself, your partner, your children, your friends or your boss? If they aren’t for you then ditch them.
For what purpose? – is there an end result or outcome in mind? When I finally stopped smoking it was in the context of a new healthy eating regime. It made sense. What didn’t make sense was me trying to stop smoking at a time I was still wolfing down pear and almond crumbles with custard and drinking gallons of coffee and coke. Do you want to feel better, do better or have something better in your life?
Who can support you? – It could be a friend, a partner, a club or a coach but don’t try to do it on your own.
If no then
Don’t feel that because you haven’t set an intention, or you don’t have any goals or resolutions for 2018 that all is lost. You just haven’t done it yet and you don’t have to if you don’t want to. But if you do want to then find your own start date. It could be your birthday, it could be Lent, it could be the beginning of the April financial year. You choose, you decide, just don’t beat yourself up.
If you do want some help and support figuring out your outcomes for the next few months or if there is something you’ve really wanted to do or achieve for along time, then why not book yourself in for a free consultation with me. Just click the button below to arrange to have a chat.