Happy New Year! This year, perhaps more than any other, most of us are beyond thrilled to leave behind the old and move forward with a fresh start. We’ve made it to the other side. Congrats!
I have to admit – I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. It’s not that I’m against goals or life changes, I just find that the container of New Year’s resolutions isn’t often particularly effective. How many times do we make a goal to eat differently, exercise more, connect with friends, or keep our homes clean only to find that we’ve reverted to our old ways just a few weeks in?
It seems like there’s an unspoken rule that if you don’t achieve your resolution in the first few weeks, then you have to give it up and wait until the next year to start the process all over again. Where does that leave us? Stagnant. Not responsive to our current circumstances. Frustrated. Feeling like we don’t have control.
The opposite of resilient.
Now, let me clarify. I’m not saying New Year’s resolutions don’t work for anyone. For those of you whom they do work, we’ll cheer you on! And for the rest of us, there has to be a better way to start over, right?
Here are three things to help us think about new beginnings:
1) Any time can be a new beginning.
There is research showing that January is the best month to create a fresh start so this is a great time to pay attention to what you want to let go of and welcome more of into your life. Yet, a new beginning is always available to us. If you’re not satisfied with what’s happening in your life, you can set your own new beginning at any time.
Get creative. If you find that your New Year’s resolutions aren’t working for you, start afresh in February. If you find the tradition of a New Year’s celebration helpful, create your own “new beginning traditions” that can happen at any point in the year. It might be at the start of a new season, a new month, your birthday, or even a random Wednesday.
This process is about taking a broader perspective of your life, releasing what is not serving you, connecting to your personal motivations, and aspiring toward better outcomes. Each and every day presents a new opportunity for a new beginning.
In this video: Harnessing the power of a “Today is Day 1” perspective. Excerpt from our THRIVE Coffeehouse Chats.
2) Pay attention to your now normal.
Let’s paint a picture. You set ambitious New Year’s resolutions in January. It’s March, and you are well on track to keeping up with those resolutions. You’ve done everything you intended, and it felt really good at first, but now it’s not quite hitting the mark. So, what’s the hang up? No matter how dedicated you might be to your resolutions, you aren’t a fortune teller.
You likely won’t know in January what is going to be helpful for you in March. Ask yourself what’s my now normal? In other words, how has your life changed, how are your circumstances different, or how have your priorities shifted?
With this information, you can reflect on your resolutions or goals and how to make them more helpful for you in the context of your now normal. Give yourself grace to let go of what is no longer helpful. The goal of a resolution is not to hold on to it forever, but to let it do what it needs to do and then find the next helpful thing.
In this video: Things change so keep assessing what you need within your present context. Excerpt from Module 7 in our Pandemic Parenting series.
3) Focus on what’s inside your reach.
Often, we put a lot of pressure on our new beginnings to completely change our behavior, the behavior of others, and our circumstances. Whether you choose to make New Year’s resolutions or are planning to set some goals throughout the year, make sure to keep what’s inside your reach at the forefront.
What’s inside your reach includes your behaviors, responses, thoughts, and emotions. What’s outside your reach includes how other people behave, respond, think, and feel.
What’s outside your reach might include whether a circumstance occurs. What’s inside your reach includes how you engage with your circumstances.
Set realistic expectations for your new beginning by making your resolutions or goals centered on those things that are inside your reach. This will help you persist and adapt when the new beginning doesn’t go exactly as planned.
In this video: Focusing on what is inside your reach. Excerpt from Module 3 in our Pandemic Parenting series.
Use these tips for a strong start in 2021 — or to make a fresh start throughout the coming year by hitting a reset any time, responding to your current situation, and focusing on what’s inside your reach.
From all of us at Worldmaker, we wish you a healthy and happy new year. We can’t wait to see how you grow into your new beginnings!
By: Kristen Hayes; Worldmaker International Research and Education Manager