It’s the third of January, and it’s a dreary kind of day outside. The kind of day that makes you want to curl up by the fire. It’s also far enough into the new year that you could already see yourself as failing one or more of your resolutions, if you made any, but also early enough in the year that you may not even have started, and so you could be wondering if it was worth even setting any.
Well, I really don’t like the kind of all-or-nothing resolutions which you could fail at this early on! I mean, what’s the point of them? It’s incredibly hard to start, or stick to, a new healthy eating plan when the house is still full of delicious Christmas leftovers! If you haven’t started, why should a week or two into the year make any difference? Why not start when the time is right for you?! If the blustery day puts you off wanting to go for a walk or a run, does it matter? It’s not the only day of the year! There are still 362 days left to do that!
I much prefer to look at the new year as a time to assess where I’m at in my life, and keep moving forward. So rather than set myself ridiculous goals which I can succeed or fail at, I set myself realistic goals, and see them as a continuation of what has gone before, a revisiting of my overall move towards better things. It’s not a ladder I can fall off, more of a spiral staircase in which the overall movement is upwards but which curls around and comes back to the same spot, where I can go down a few steps but then back up. I try to take small steps towards my overall goal, but I don’t try to do it all at once! As Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Above all, I intend to be kind to myself this year, so setting myself unreachable goals would really not fit that end. If you have already broken a resolution, or have not yet started, or not set any at all, be kind to yourself and just take one tiny step at a time.
I’m not the biggest fan of new year’s resolutions per se, as we so often make them, stick with them for a few days or weeks, and then go back to the way we were before when we realise we have been too ambitious, and other things get in the way of that punishing exercise schedule which seemed such a good idea before we went back to work after the holidays. It’s so easy to get discouraged and then give up altogether. But I do think that this is the ideal time to have a look at the year we have just lived through, at the achievements we have made, however small, and consider how we would like to take them forward. And not just our achievements, but also our failures, the lessons we have learnt this year and which we can use to help us in the coming year.
When we stop to look over the past 12 months, we might be surprised by how far we have come. We might not have changed the world, exactly, but we may have taken our first baby steps towards something incredibly important in our lives. So whilst I have not yet become self-sufficient in making my own clothes, I have started that process and made a few items, and whilst invisible zips are still a bit scary, I can imagine that they will keep getting easier with each garment (I hope!). I’ve made most of the birthday cards I’ve sent and all of our Christmas cards this year, so hope to continue this next year. I have continued my daily yoga and meditation practice, and have resumed my writing after quite a long – and unintended – break. I have bought a Nutribullet and most days I’m drinking a delicious and homemade smoothie full of healthy fruit and vegetables. I completely quit sugar last year, and then resumed it to some extent, but now Christmas is over I’m already looking forward to my January cleanse. Mindfulness of eating has become too ingrained to overindulge for long!
So even if, like me, you have previously been discouraged by unsustainable resolutions, don’t despair. Look at how far you have already come, and then think about what small and achievable steps you could work towards next. Optimism is great, but try to be realistic too, so that, come the end of January, you haven’t given up altogether.