Tomorrow at midnight wherever you are in the world, it will not only be a new day but a whole new year. 2022. Bright, shiny, completely fresh, wholly unique. We have never been here before, never walked in this time in space before now. Everything we will do from midnight on will be our first time doing it in quite this way in quite this time. The potential for something amazing is right there in that truly present moment and yet…
With a new year come the resolutions. And with the resolutions comes the guilt of NOT fulfilling those little — or even big — promises we make to ourselves to change, continue, or stop doing whatever it is we want to change, continue, or stop doing. We give ourselves the hardest time over these commitments we lay out, pile on inordinate amounts of pressure to follow through on these wishes and hopes, and that weight then taints the goals we set forth.
Why do we do that to ourselves? The New Year’s Resolution is an opportunity, not a burden. Perhaps we’re looking at this all wrong and instead of feeling pressured by them, we can feel empowered through them.
Thousands of years in the making
The art of the resolution has been around since old Babylonian times. Back in the day — about 4,000 years back — ringing in the new year was just as big a deal as it is now. Of course, in those days mid-March, not January, was the start of it all because it was when crops were planted. Here’s a quick history lesson — Julius Caesar was the one who came up with the new calendar and made January the first month of the year because “January” was named after “Janus,” the Roman god of new beginnings, whereas March was named after “Mars” who is the Roman god of war.
Whatever the case, in those very early days, the folks in Babylon threw a 12-day festival ringing in the new year, pledging allegiance to the current king or crowning a new one, and making promises to the gods to pay any debts they might still owe and return anything they may have taken throughout the year. Basically, they were making good and promising to do better to appease said gods. Those are the first resolutions and it was a way to sweep out the old and welcome the new, improved them. That has since gone on to become what these aspirations represent today and the purpose remains the same. Change for the better, for the positive, for the new. Getting rid of what was with an eye for what will be.
There is a lot of power in taking that leap to clear out the cobwebs from the year before to make way for something fresh and new. Resolutions give us strength to make those changes. They are meant to be purposeful and uplifting, not weigh us down. Whenever you find yourself falling into that habit of getting on yourself for not fulfilling your promise to you, there are four things we have found that help shift the resolution narrative from stressful to empowering. The first three go hand in hand in our experience: Be Kind, Be Patient, Be Forgiving.
The fourth one?
We’ll get there.
Be kind, be patient, be forgiving
No matter what goal you set for yourself in the new year, give yourself the space to find your way. Sometimes this new task is so different from anything we’ve ever done before, it takes time to find our rhythm. Too often, we are our harshest critic and we can beat ourselves up for not mastering something or not making something happen fast enough. There may even come a point where we discover whatever we wanted will not come to pass, and then we jump all over us.
It’s at those moments that you need to give yourself a break. Be gentle and kind to yourself by remembering you have started down a brand new path. There are bound to be moments of growth and learning. Be patient with this forward motion and know things take time. Nothing happens overnight and you need to forgive yourself for not being more this or more that right away. Step back a moment and indulge in a little self-care. Draw a hot bath, listen to music, get a massage — whatever is a gift to you. Change is hard and there will be bumps in your road of resolution. Remember to be kind to, patient with, and forgiving of yourself as you begin your journey of the new. This is the time to give yourself a break.
Fourth: Don’t let the “shoulds” slow you down
Resolutions are merely guidelines, parts of a map that will shift and grow as you journey forward. Celebrate the little and big victories along the way and set attainable goals. That is why resolutions seem to get such a bad rap — we frequently make these giant promises there is no way we can keep and that comes from a hunger for something new and something different, a desire to launch change. All good things, really. BUT… but… keeping it real makes setting and achieving those things that much easier, and not getting caught up in the “shoulds” but celebrating the “what is” moments.
You don’t owe anyone anything as you make your way through your resolutions, or not. Moving away from the absolutes of what must be may help you see just how beautiful these commitments for change really are.
Think about it. There is something in you that wants to make a difference in your own life in some way. You want to take all that you’ve experienced in the last year, and enhance and grow even more and with more purpose. What an awesome thing to do! What a giant step, even if it’s something simple like getting up a little earlier, walking a little further, smiling more, whatever. Every little bit of new is just as important as large, sweeping, life changing goals. As you go forward in this next phase of life, keep that in mind and maybe even write down how you’re feeling, how you are progressing, what you are discovering.
New Year’s resolutions are powerful, magical things. They are the recognition that we seek and desire change, and are willing to put voice to it. It’s okay if you don’t fulfill all of them. Really. Embrace them as the marvels they are: beautiful gems of promise and purpose for a brighter present.
Welcome, 2022. Let the journey begin.