New Year Resolutions – A Different Angle

Sarah Parker

Sarah Parker

Change coach, therapist, human being, and founder of Well of Being.

Hello everyone. I hope the year has started well for you.

May I wish you all joy and fulfilment in the year ahead.

What does the start of a new year signify for you? We all have our own unique thoughts, feelings, and relationship with the beginning of a new year, which is perhaps influenced by past experiences and learning and society.

It is a time when we often hear others talking about new years resolutions, and we see companies aiming their advertising campaigns at us changing our behaviours in some way.

It is also a time of year where nature (and we are nature) is slowed down or hibernating and waiting for the sunshine to return to energise us again.

It is so easy to forget that we are nature. Modern society has developed a perception that we can overcome the pull of nature and the changing needs of different seasons. We have developed the ability to overcome the dark through electricity and so we are often expected to work just as hard through winter as we do through summer. The persistent drive to be industrious at any cost means that we don’t get the opportunity to rest, allow our leaves to drop, and pause until the climate is right to come back into bud again.

We continue to work relentlessly without questioning the resources and nourishment we have and need.

So for anyone who, with the best of intentions, sets new year’s resolutions, hopes and aims, it’s not very surprising that those resolutions, when we are already depleted by the season, often fall quickly by the wayside.

Perhaps it is not the case that we cannot sustain change or create new, more loving and compassionate behaviours towards ourselves at all. Maybe we are simply not choosing the best time of year to give maximum energy to those changes.

If we think about nature, trees and plants rarely grow and bloom through the winter. They shed their leaves and preserve their energy and nutrients for the vital work of surviving the cold and scarcity. It makes sense then that we humans also need all the energy we have simply to get through the winter, especially with the extra expectations of growth and development that modern society places on us.

Without the invention of electricity, we would likely be sleeping much longer through the long winter nights and resting, rather than putting pressure on ourselves to do more, be more and achieve more. With all the pressure of new year’s resolutions and the fear of failure, how about we consider two questions:

  • what drives our desire to make those changes
  • is the new year really the optimal time to create and sustain change

Instead of going with the crowd at new year, we can think about (1) if the changes we plan to make are aligned with what feels best for us and who we are as individuals and (2) when the best time might be to begin working towards the changes we hope to make.

Maybe we can think about new season’s resolutions – if we really want to make changes and begin our growth, how about we align with the trees and plants and begin our growth and transformation as they begin their season of growth again.

Or perhaps, just as the trees don’t have to resolve to grow, it is in their nature to grow and change, we can trust that it is also in our nature to grow and develop as humans if our critical and habitual minds can get out of our way.

Imagine if our pledge could simply be to notice when our minds and our thinking gets in the way of the change and growth that naturally dwells within us. Perhaps then, any changes that we make are most aligned with what we need and what will best serve us moment to moment, day to day.

With new year love and compassion. Sarah x

FAQ’s

Why do you emphasize our relationship with nature?

Nature plays an important role in influencing our energy levels. Understanding this can help us align our personal growth with natural cycles. Recognising our inherent connection to nature helps us to develop a more compassionate approach to personal development and change.

How can societal pressure to make New Year’s resolutions affect our ability to create lasting change?

Societal expectations around New Year’s resolutions can create increased pressure and an unrealistic timeline for change. This can result in burnout and impact on the sustainability of the changes we hope to make. Setting goals that resonate with our authentic selves is so important for our ability to continue with those goals.

Why should I consider whether the new year is the best time for change?

While the new year often symbolizes new beginnings, it might not always be the best time for personal growth. Seasonal factors and our individual energy levels are important to think about when we embark on a journey of change. Timing matters, and choosing a season aligned with natural cycles can enhance the chances of success.

What do you mean by “new season’s resolutions” and how does this align with natural growth cycles?

“New season’s resolutions” involve aligning personal growth with the natural cycles of change and growth seen in trees and plants. Just as nature rests and conserves energy during winter, we too can benefit from recognizing moments of rest and rejuvenation before beginning significant personal changes. This aligns with the ebb and flow of natural growth cycles.

 

What do you mean by “noticing when our minds and thinking get in the way of change”?

Our minds often hold self-doubt, fear of failure, or ingrained habits that resist change. By being aware and noticing the thoughts we are experiencing, we can observe these patterns. Noticing when our thoughts hinder growth allows us to consciously choose responses that align with what truly matters to us.

How can I know if the changes I plan to make align with my true self?

Think about what is really important to you. What makes your life rich and meaningful and feels authentic to you. If your resolutions or plans resonate with these aspects of yourself, you’re more likely to create lasting and fulfilling changes. Keep checking in with yourself, your values and what is important to you to make sure any goals are aligned with who you deeply are and what matters to you.

What if I don’t want to make resolutions?

Personal growth can, and does, occur without rigid resolutions. Instead of focusing on specific outcomes, you can gently acknowledge where you are, and where you might want to get to without having to set a specific outcome. Holding hopes and intentions, embracing flexibility, and being open to adapting goals can also lead to meaningful and sustainable changes.

How can having a critical and habitual mind hinder personal growth?

Old, habitual thoughts can manifest as self-doubt, perfectionism, or fear of failure. Habitual thinking patterns can create resistance to change by keeping us in a familiar, (even if uncomfortable) way of being. Recognising these patterns allows us to create a different relationship with our thoughts so we are not rules and controlled by them, paving the way for growth and change.

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