Yes, we all love the idea of a fresh start, a clean slate, making our wrongs right and beginning again. We do this with a new diet, a cleanse, a shiny new gym membership. “This is the year!” we exclaim.
Yet, how many of your resolutions do you keep, and keep longer than a few days or weeks? Or even remember making during a drunken buzz or epic stupor at your BFF’s annual NYE bash?
Yea, I thought so.
By now, perhaps you are waning in the holiday cheer, and have overindulged on food and drink. Perhaps you made extra withdrawals from your bank accounts and personal energy reserves and are now beginning to feel the impact of those choices. This brings me to why making resolutions might not be the wisest course of action. The proof is in your own personal track record.
I have two suggestions. First, nix the resolution that won’t likely happen anyway. Second, replace with a few things that you’re willing to let go of. This could be as easy as a few wardrobe items that you won’t wear, home necessities that are more work than you’d anticipated, or something as seemingly difficult as letting go of a relationship who’s time is up, one in which you sense more freedom than heartache will result. In the Taoist tradition—the foundation of much of my acupuncture training—new beginnings are a time of subtraction rather than addition. In other words, what could you let go of first to make room for what you want to come in rather than rush to resolutions for January 1? Use the entire month of January to practice the letting go of what no longer serves you.
As you do this, it’s my experience that clarity around an intention arrives. Intentions are not goals. Intentions can be as simple as starting your day with a word or two that you’d like to live into. For example, ease and flow are what I use to start my day. I don’t just say them, I savor them. Before my feet hit the floor, I spend a few minutes in bed and begin to feel what ease and flow feel like in my body. I imagine my day, the meeting or appointment full of ease and flow. I create a bodily and emotional sense, and that generally feels lighter and happier. Think about it. If you had the intention to be at ease with others, with yourself during the day, what would be possible? When you purchase the gym membership with ease and show up with ease, that could aid in a longer lasting, “ease-ful” relationship with they gym, long after the enthusiasm has waned.
Why don’t resolutions stick for most people? The energetic of Winter is slower. In fact, one of the ancient practices of the Winter season is to be still. Given this, your new cleanse or fitness class or any activity that eats up more of your energy can be counterproductive to the body. Just look outside. The leafless tree you see isn’t lifeless. It’s gathering much needed resources. It’s turning inward. What you see outside your window mirrors what’s happening to your body. Your interior landscape is seeking more rest, more quiet, more contemplation—all the things that are necessary so you have the energy to bloom in the Spring and again in the Summer. Your wellness is tied to the seasons, and when we play Summer in Winter, you deplete your reserves. This can usher in a Spring that isn’t so pleasant, where you find yourself getting colds or having less energy, all in a season that is about UP and OUT!
Plus, if you wait until Spring for the intense exercise, the actions you may feel compelled to take now are far more likely to yield the results you seek. Maximize the action with the energetic. You will have given your body time to fill its reserves. I can hear you thinking “Spring?!! That’s in April!” Well, impatient one, if you use the Chinese Calendar, the first awakening of spring comes with the second new moon after the Solstice, also known as the Chinese New Year. This year, that’s January 31, the Year of the Wood Horse, another reason I suggest taking a full month of January to let go. More clarity will arise, and wiser actions are likely to follow. More to come on how to leverage the Wood Horse archetype for your New Year next time.
‘Til then, Happy New Year!