Look at most magazine and news articles this time of year and many of them refer to our New Year’s Resolutions; perhaps urging us to set new goals, sweep aside the excesses of last year and stride forth with new and renewed vigour. We are advised to cleanse our bodies and our minds and look to a new and exciting future. Perhaps we are then inspired to sit down and write a long list of all the things we would like to achieve in 2018. This is all good and well-intentioned and in principle I have no argument with it. What I would say though, is that it can all be too much in one go and the longer the list the more likely we are to fail.
Reflect. Revise. Renew.
Sometimes breaking those resolutions before the month of January is out is enough to send us into a downward spiral and is counterproductive. I would like to urge you to be gentle with yourself this time of year; go easy on yourself and take time to focus on what is really best for you.
January is both a new month and the start to a new year, and while that should fill us with renewed enthusiasm, that enthusiasm can take a while to kick in! Dark mornings don’t help –when you feel as though you are getting up in the middle of the night and the daylight hours are very short it is hard to be upbeat. But it is possible to reframe the gloomy, dark morning; perhaps think of the darker hours as a time of preparation for the lighter days that will follow. When we look around a garden or the countryside this time of year it appears bare and dull, and yet underneath the soil the plants and bulbs are busy preparing themselves to unfold in the spring. Gardens are slowly testing the waters; a few buds tentatively unfurling as if checking to see if the world is ready for them. So maybe we should follow the example from Mother Nature. Rather than be tempted to rush headlong into the New Year perhaps we should take a more gradual approach.
It is good to first reflect on what has been before and ask ourselves a few questions:
What did I do to contribute to my successes?
What did I do to contribute to any disappointments?
What can I do differently this year?
Most of all: what do I fondly remember that made me happy?
If you had a successful year last year, well done! Look at all you did to bring that success, but be sure that success is taking you where you want to go and making you happy. Even though your year was successful, would you do anything differently?
It is easy to dwell too much on past mistakes; however a bit of reflection can help us decide what we want to change in the future. If we reflect, we can forgive ourselves or others for past hurts and then focus on the path ahead. Most people, I think, try their best on any given day and being hard on ourselves and heaping on unachievable demands isn’t helpful. Any disappointments can be looked at positively; if we can learn from these disappointments and avoid them in the future then our character will become stronger.
What happened last year to make you happy? Make those happy memories your ‘go to’ place in your mind when you have a bad day. When we feel happy, everything falls into place and is as it should be. Happiness is not measured differently whether we are rich or poor, by what we have or don’t have. It is more likely to be measured by a loving hug or a simple gift of a bunch of snowdrops on a frosty day.
Once we have cleared our body, heart and mind of weight we then give ourselves new energy and will be more able to stick to a new and healthier diet. With that we will also have a healthier mental outlook. But again, go easy on yourself. You do your best and if you really want your life to be different, tackle it one project at a time! When we feel ready, we can make careful choices and commitments we can keep, like pursuing optimal health, following someone or something which inspires us or contributing to a good cause in a significant manner.
We can work at creating a desired future, worthy of our time and energy.
Reflect. Revise. Renew. Be Happy!
A favourite pathway – the lamps still glowing on an early morning walk……