The new year is forever and always a time when the internet goes wild with proclamations of changing everything about your life, overnight. The truth is, change doesn’t come in sporadic bursts of activity, and it doesn’t come overnight. In my experience, it comes in slow, steady work done over months and years. It can be tempting to decide to change everything all at once: your body, your mind, your practices – even where you live or your job. Change is great, and embracing change is an essential life skill we could all use a little more of. But we could also stand to benefit from first looking at what we did achieve in 2018 and then looking forward to 2019. It’s so easy to feel in lack: lack of what we don’t have, who we are not, what we have not yet done, whilst forgetting to appreciate and really CELEBRATE who we already are.
An opportunity to make resolutions is always a positive thing — putting down intentions through out the year is an excellent way to consistently achieve goals. And of course, the promise of a a New Year is such a boon to the psyche. We feel like we have a clean slate — and are able to start afresh. Embrace the change! But the pressure of that can be immense, especially after what can be a gruelling holiday season rife with constant socialising, eating with abandon and potential emotional triggers. Like the spiritual teacher Ram Dass says “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.”
Think of intention setting as a harm reduction practice to avoid signing yourself up for something you can’t complete. So often knee-jerk decisions made at the beginning of January are based in fear and guilt — and although fear can be a great motivator, it’s also likely to continue a cycle of fear and guilt — and may not even really be a part of your path or plan for yourself. So instead of giving you a blueprint to figure out exactly how to bust through a 10-page list of resolutions and smash them one-by-one (has that ever been successful for anyone, ever?) — I’m here to let you off the hook, put down the diet plan (and the inevitable self-flagellation about all that food we ate that comes with it).
Take a deep breath in. Close your eyes and tell your heart you love it, and that you’re in this together. Then, take out a paper and pen and write all the ways you did well in 2018. It can be as simple as “started recycling,” as normal as “showed up at work,” or as big as “exercised 3x per week” — because that IS big! Write down as much as you can think of and thank yourself for showing up in ways both big and small last year. You’ll be impressed at how much you actually did when you look back at it. We have to look back to look forward.
Then create a ritual around what you want for this year, so it feels sacred and completely individual to you. Light a candle, create a space in your home where you can ask for what you need from the year. Really listen in to your heart for the answers of what it wants for this year, of where you want to go and what you want to do with long-term, achievable plans and goals. That’s where the excitement is, and where the real change happens. Start a new notebook and plot your year out, month-by-month and think about where you’ll be through out the year. Try to visualize what you want, and how you want to feel rather than what you want to have. It’s a very powerful practice, and it works.
Keep the plans in a safe place and if you feel inspired to, go back to them every three months and check in with yourself. It’s a good way to see how far you’ve come, but remember to be gentle with yourself at each stage. You’ll be surprised at how powerful it is to put pen to paper and see what that simple action brings to your year. You may even complete projects or start something you’ve been meaning to for years, but just never got round to. Above all, give yourself a break. Do what you can, and implement easy, actionable items that will create lasting change. It is winter, after all and winter is traditionally a time for hibernating and nourishing your body in healing ways. And always, always, leave room to be surprised by what’s in store for you – because what is life without a little magic?
- Don’t be afraid to dream. What if the impossible were possible? Write it out.
- Get creative. Make a collage or a vision board with old magazines for your intentions — make it beautiful. Create your vision.
- Incorporate ritual. Light a candle, cleanse your space with wood or herbs (like palo santo), take a few minutes to breathe and meditate on what you want for yourself.
- Make It Fun: if you want to, do it with a friend or spouse. Inspire each other to dream and support each other in your goals.
- Take Stock: write a list of everything you accomplished in 2018 – big and small – and thank yourself for continuing to show up. Looking forward is important but it’s also good to remind yourself of how hard you worked the previous year.
Author: Nora Logan
About the Author: Nora is a writer, meditation teacher and holistic health coach. She is leading a weekly meditation class every Monday at 7.30pm from 14 January at Colomba in Camden. Check her website for more details: noraelogan.com