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The Truth about New Years Resolutions

Picara Vassallo

Look outside.

What do you see?

I see stillness, barren trees, people walking with their heads down bracing the cold wind, not speaking, just trudging along.

No squirrels running through the park, no flowers blooming, the ground is cold and hard and the days are incredibly short.  It's dark.  Often.

Most things are dead.  The things that aren't dead are hibernating.

Yet, we seem to think this is a great time to use our resources to create something new because it's January 1st!  We want to burst forth with energy and vigor and say, "I'm going to make things happen! Things are going to change now!  I'm going to the gym 5 days a week and I'm going to stop eating all sugar and caffeine!"

And maybe it is… for a few weeks it works.  Then, you find you are tired.  It's hard to get up at 5am when it's still pitch black outside and freezing.  You're hungry and craving warm foods instead of the chilled salad and raw juice diet you decided was your new plan.

This is not entirely your fault, you know.

It's not because you don't have enough "will power" or because you are a "failure."  It's more that you are working against mother nature.  Do you see birds trying to make new nests right now?  Or flowers trying to bloom? Even water freezes and becomes still instead of flowing.  Yet, here we are trying to "make things happen" and "get motivated."

It's a little ridiculous, isn't it?  To try and make these resolutions happen right now?

But, to be clear… I'm not saying it's impossible or that you can't do it.

I'm NOT saying to give up your New Years Resolutions all together.

I am asking you to reconsider them… and how you implement them so you can get the results that you want, long term.

For me, Winter is a time of introspection and quiet.  I like to use the dark days to plumb the depths of who I am and explore the greater mysteries of my life.

Who am I?   What would make me feel like my life was my own, fully expressed, fulfilling?

In those dark cold days, I become aware of what I really want and what is truly best for me. Then, I reflect on it and consider plans for the future. I'd rather not fully implement that list of things I'd like to change until we get closer to Spring.

By Spring time, I'm always bursting with energy, excited to grow and implement new ideas. The weather is warming up, birds are starting to chirp again, the ground softens, we start to feel the energy rise up like plants growing from the earth below.  I start to feel a genuine connection to the season and an inspiration and motivation to "get things done."

If I've rested in winter and been introspective then I have more energy, I feel more alive and there's more warmth to fuel me forward.

So, here's what I'm recommending you try out this year for your "New Years Resolution"

  1. Get introspective - The month of January is named after the god Janus.  He is a two headed god - one head looking forward and another looking backward embodying, I believe, the true spirit of the new year. So, write a list of what you liked most about the past year and what you'd like to change for 2013.  List a few goals. Come back to the list a few days later and see if it's still accurate or what you might change. Take your time doing this.  Sit quietly, meditation on it.  Be patient with yourself.
  2. Start with small changes -  Winter is a time of year of rest, not exhausting yourself.  So,  if you feel very strongly about making a change now, pick the easiest on your list. Small, simple changes are often more successful at this time of year. Adding in 20 minutes of meditation a week or 1 yoga class a week are good examples.
  3. Plan for the bigger changes -   Want to cut out coffee entirely this year?  Great!  But, you know this is going to be challenging for you and it feels like a huge undertaking.  Instead of implementing the change full force now, question yourself first and make a long term plan. How much coffee are you really drinking? Why are you drinking so much coffee - for energy, out of habit, the taste? What are you going to substitute coffee with?  Why has quitting been a challenge in the past? Start getting used to the idea of what it's like without coffee and how it might make you feel.  Get in touch with your motivation and start looking for alternatives - herbal teas to sip on or ginseng supplements for energy.  Start making little changes like I mentioned above such as switching to tea.  By the time Spring is in full bloom, you'll have done your research, you'll have the plan ready to implement and you'll have more energy. The whole process will be much easier.

Embrace Winter, rest, be introspective, plan for the Spring and you'll find your goals will have much more depth, be more inspired and easier to bring to fruition!