It seems counter-intuitive, I know. The first of January comes with all the ‘new year, new you’ hype and it’s easy to get carried along with the tide of that energy.
But within a week 25% of people have given up, and by the end of the month only 64% are still sticking by their new year resolutions Six months into the year, that figure has further declined to 46% of us are still sticking with them.
If you tend to be one of those who quickly loses commitment then you can see you’re in plentiful company. And maybe it could serve you well to consider a different approach.
I strongly suggest waiting out January and making new year intentions just as February kicks in when we can feel ourselves beginning to pull out of the depths of winter.
Setting new year intentions and resolutions early in January can be somewhat self-defeating because we have to dig quite deep to get ourselves into motion. We have to rely on willpower rather than a natural spark of energy. And willpower is a battery that can run down very quickly.
If instead, we spend the month of January playing around with ideas about what we could do (not must, or should) in the coming year and wait just a few weeks before we commit ourselves to action, we might see different results.
And the energy that starts to emerge in February can be much more helpful to make changes.
First of all, the Chinese new year falls in February – so we still have that “new year” energy lingering in the air. And in 2022 it falls on February 1st.
Secondly, from sunset on February 1st until sunset on February 2nd, we have Imbolc – the Celtic pagan fire festival that marks the beginning of a new season. Spring is just around the corner, and with it comes lighter brighter energy. More energetic energy.
The weather may often still be cold and wintry in February, but as we move into, and through the month, we start to feel a spring in our step. Like all of nature’s creations, our bodies adapt and attune to the natural rhythms. Slowly we become ready to come out of hibernation. This is a much better time to commit to changes in our habits and lifestyles.
January, on the other hand, is a long, dark, and cold month. It can feel downright gloomy. Is that kind of energy conducive to making strong and lasting changes to your habitual activities? I think not.
This first month of the year is much better suited to reflection and planning.
Dream your dreams in front of the fire throughout the coming weeks. Use the time to get clearer on what change you’re ready to bring about in your life, and how you can viably do so. Put together a strong and steady plan that you feel excited and energized to put into action – but don’t force yourself to put it into action straight away.
Notice how your energy feels, and wait until it feels strong and aligned. Wait until there is no resistance, only genuine inner enthusiasm. And don’t be surprised if you notice an eagerness growing within you as the days become longer and brighter.
Instead of browbeating yourself into these changes through the slumbering month of January, wait until the season for renewal comes around. As spring beckons, we naturally find it easier to motivate ourselves to go outdoors for a morning or evening walk or to get up earlier and start the day with a short meditation – or whatever it is you identify in the coming weeks that will support you best in the year ahead.
Hopefully, by the end of January, you’ll be in a place where you’re setting intentions that make sense for you and feel right. It’s a much different place from setting goals because of the ‘new year, new you’ bombardment of messages we receive at the end of December and early January.
So, if you absolutely must set a resolution now, let it be to dream and ponder your way through the coming month and emerge with a clear plan and a strong will in February.
Happy new year.