Ah the new year’s resolution. That old chestnut. Again.
Frankly I’m a little tired of the false euphoria that comes with the start of a new year. All the hype, all the pressure of being somewhere cool with amazing people on new years eve. Then there’s the avalanche of articles, blogs, tweets, TV shows on reinventing yourself. The pressure to have it all together on new year’s eve, and then have a good and healthy attitude about the approaching year is often suffocating.
Personally I’m not going to resolve to exercise more, eat more healthily or whatever other fad the media are peddling. I can however set myself goals that are more focussed on lasting achievements than on reinventing myself, only to slip back into old habits come February.
A couple of years ago, some close friends were talking about meeting up to discuss their ‘visions and goals for the new year’. This stunned me. I didn’t have any visions or goals! Yes I had plans for the year, things I wanted to do and see happen, like find a nursery for my daughter, meet up more with old university friends; stuff like that which seemed fairly obvious and didn’t require a lot of soul-searching to come up with.
Then last year I went through a particularly bad patch. I suffered with crippling daily headaches for five months. The agony of this triggered some terrible mood swings which in turn left me feeling very low, bordering on depression. Because I was so unwell and low, I was unable to write or progress my career. Things were hitting rock bottom. I had to find the motivation and discipline to change things for myself.
So I started to set myself small goals like ensuring I never went more than a week without some me-time. Or forcing myself to go to Pilates once a week with a friend. When my health improved I started on slightly bigger goals, and so on and so on. This exercise turned into a kind of manifesto of short-term and long-term goals. It helped me to focus and got me out of my funk. Every time I was low or lost direction I would refer back to it. It was great being able to look back during the months that ensued and see where I had achieved those goals. And yes there were some that I didn’t work out. But as long as I understood why (perhaps they were unrealistic, perhaps they didn’t fit with whatever was going on in the family etc…) I was ok with a couple of boxes that were un-ticked.
I approached this new year quietly no big party, just a night-in with my husband and daughter, a takeaway, some cocktails (for the grown-ups only of course), some chocolate and a good film. The kind of night in I love. Back at the beginning of December I wrote my 2014 goals; so there was no new year’s eve pressure to wake up on January 1st and suddenly reinvent myself. The great thing about them, was like the mid-year 2013 ones I wrote, they came about organically, from issues and changes I had been thinking about for a while.
So how about it- a set of personal 2014 goals? Perhaps have a separate list of spiritual and practical goals. How about financially: saving up for that holiday or paying off a debt? Even if you live spontaneously and don’t like to plan ahead too much, I would encourage writing even short-term goals as they focus the mind and energy. We all function differently, so of course we all need a different way of taking on a new year or new challenge or a new….anything.
And if goal-writing is not for you that’s ok too. This is just my take on things this year: a quiet, thought-filled, prayerful approach to the otherwise quite daunting prospect of another year of work and responsibility.
However you choose to approach the new year I hope you embrace 2014 it with energy, love and lots of peace. And plenty of chocolate.
Happy 2014 x