Hello everyone, and welcome to the last day of 2017! It’s certainly been an interesting year, and I think most of us are ready to start fresh and welcome in 2018.
With that in mind, this is just a short post to help you get the new year off to the best start possible. Now, I hate New Year’s Eve. At this point in the holiday season, I am totally over the eating, drinking, large crowds, festivities, all of it. I really do love the holiday season with all my heart, but by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around, I’m officially done. I also really don’t like the pressure that people put on themselves with the first of the year to make all of these colossal changes in their lives that will somehow magically fix everything (read this post for more on why I don’t like resolutions).
And is there any phrase more insufferable than “New Year, New You?” I know I’ve used it, and for that, I apologize. I resolve (ha! see what I did there?) to never use it again. Why should you totally re-invent yourself just because a new month started? You’re already pretty great! We don’t need to create these new “perfect” versions of ourselves that will inevitably crash and burn by the time February rolls around.
With that being said, I do like to take some time at the beginning of the new year to set intentions for the upcoming year. These are not resolutions, but rather statements of things I would like to see happen or areas in which I would like to grow. These aren’t necessarily specific goals (i.e. “I will make (x) amount of dollars,” “I will run a marathon,” “I will volunteer twice a week”) but rather broad statements about areas of my life in which I would like to enact positive changes. For example, one of mine for 2017 was “I want to not rely on external sources of validation to feel good about myself, but to acknowledge on my own that I am a capable and successful person who has much to offer other people.” Like many, I struggle with negative self-talk sometimes, so making sure that internally I am speaking kindly to myself is a really important thing for me to work on. No matter what kind things others may say to me, it’s important for my own mental health that I also think I am a good person.
I write out a list of about 8-10 items on a piece of paper, tuck it away somewhere, occasionally re-visit it throughout the year, and then sit down with it at the end of the year to take a look at how things went. I just sat down with my list of 2017 intentions, and as is to be expected, I made some great progress in some areas and have some other areas where I can continue to grow. This then helps me create my intentions for the next year.
By sitting down and concretely directing your energy towards what you want to happen, it sets you on a path of bringing those intentions to life. Without veering off too much into abstract self-help nonsense, it is true that your mindset, attitude, and intentions can create your reality. Being in the right headspace makes a huge difference in how your day-to-day life goes. If you are living and working with a vision of what you want your life to look like, you’ll find it is much easier to stay focused on your goals, needs, and desires.
Having intentions as opposed to resolutions also allows for some flexibility- resolutions are often very specific, and, therefore, very easy at which to fail. If you don’t go to the gym four times a week like you resolved, boom! Resolution failed! However, if your intention was “I will make positive changes to make my body strong and healthy this upcoming year,” and you made it to a yoga class and went for a quick run this week, you’re making that intention a reality.
When we fail at specific resolutions, it often spirals into a cycle of just giving up and waiting for the next Monday/month/year to try and follow our strict rules once again. By creating intentions, you really can’t fail- it’s something you *intend* to do. If things go like you wanted, that’s fantastic. But if things don’t go as planned, it’s not a failure- just an opportunity to take another approach, reframe your intention, and keep trying.
See the difference? I want all of us to start the new year in a place of positivity, self-respect, and kindness (to both ourselves and to the world around us). I’m going to make my intentions for 2018 right now, and I hope you do as well.
I wish all of you a very happy and a very healthy New Year. If you are going out to celebrate this evening, please be safe, enjoy your festivities, and use a designated driver. If you’re staying home and watching terrible TV in your pajamas (like yours truly will be doing), send me some recommendations for your favorite Netflix guilty pleasure 🙂
Until next time, Happy New Year and be well!