At the beginning of January, the world is awash with new year intentions and resolutions—and before the month is out, most of them have fallen by the wayside.
There are many reasons for this, and often they stem from the place where we set them (e.g. self-loathing instead of self-love).
However, one I rarely see discussed—and which I firmly believe plays its own role—is this: it’s simply the wrong time.
January is the end of winter. Although the days are beginning to get longer, it’s still a dark month. And cold.
It is a time for hibernation. For deep reflection.
And for relishing in the opportunity to snuggle indoors and dream about our year ahead.
Setting new year intentions and resolutions during this month 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. I’m sure it works well for the determined Type A personalities, but for the rest of us, there is an alternative approach we can choose.
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.
February marks the beginning of spring. We start to see more light in the mornings, as well as the evenings, and the increasing daylight has a more noticeable effect.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll prepare the ground and start sowing seeds in our gardens and on our window sills. These seeds will grow into food to nourish our bodies and flowers to nourish our souls.
Why not align our minds with the natural rhythms of nature and choose this time to sow the seeds for our life changes too?
Spring puts a bounce in our step. If our bodies are aligned with the cycles of nature, we do feel a sense of reawakening after the slumbering months of winter. As the days and weeks go by, it becomes easier to motivate ourselves to go outdoors for a morning or evening walk, a run or a social gathering.
It makes sense that this be the time when we decide to implement changes—if we feel that’s appropriate for us.
And before we decide on how we’re going to make changes, it’s helpful to lay the foundation by decluttering. (It’s the equivalent of weeding the soil before we sow our seeds.)
If we want to welcome in something new or different, we need to make space in our lives, and spring cleaning our homes has a magically cathartic effect on our hearts and minds. Do it mindfully, holding the intention for what you want to draw into your experience, and more pertinently, how you want to experience your world.
While clearing out whatever is no longer of use, it’s helpful to reflect on the true desires underpinning our goals. What is the essence, or the feeling we want to experience? Setting intentions around that will help us to be kinder and more realistic in deciding the paths we will follow to achieve them.
While I do believe any day is a good day to start over, I also believe in harnessing the power of nature when it can help us. And right now, in nature, we are on the cusp of endings and beginnings. So now is a great time to say goodbye to what no longer serves us and make space for something new. Springtime is a better time for setting our new year intentions.
So if all your resolutions have already melted away into the river of abandoned goals, then consider revisiting them again in the coming weeks with a fresh perspective.
Image: Markus Spiske/Usplash
First published on elephant journal.