Why I Stopped Making New Year's Resolutions
With 2016 winding to a close, I feel a subtle draw inward. I am always reflective this time of year, processing what has been and dreaming of possibilities of the New Year.
I know that 2017 will be a big one-- graduating from medical school, tagging DR onto my name (*squeals), moving back to Edmonton, settling into a more grounded life and navigating my clinical practice. The foreseeable future is obvious and tangible, but my focus is on who I am and the ever-begging question, "why?"
I'm not the only one drawn to making goals or setting expectations for when the ball drops and calendar page changes over. But, how I differ is in my approach. Years ago, I stopped making New Year's resolutions.
Mid resolution-making, I had a quizzical moment of, "what the f' am I doing?" Staring at a list of meaningless goals, I pulled back and brainstormed a process that would align with sustainable self-growth.
Part of what I realized was that the goals were not authentic to me. It was a mindless want that couldn't be tied to who I am.
For one, some were unrealistic, lacking honesty in where I was at. Talk about setting myself up for failure! Secondly, most if not all my resolutions didn't attend to where I needed my energy to be invested. This was partly a lack of prioritizing, but more importantly was an absence of introspection. How and why do I genuinely need to grow?
Is this change dictated by society, friends and family, or my own ego? What do I need to do further align with my self and connect to something bigger?
I am no stranger to self growth. I don't discredit the draw of making change within your life, in fact I'm a firm believer. What I found was there is often no process or ritual associated with making a resolution. How people wish to instill change is often misguided. What is the motivation for change?
Will getting x, or becoming y really make you happy?
My New Year's Rituals
Write a Letter
When I stopped making resolutions, I started writing myself a letter.
January 1st, I would remark on lessons and valuable truths I learned over the past year, and give myself advice for the upcoming year-- things to be mindful of, ways to connect, relationships to invest in. I would also comment on the previous year's letter that I read on December 31st.
Reflecting on last year's letter, I could notice the subtle or drastic changes in my perception of self, if any predictions had transpired, and lessons that were still pertinent for the upcoming year.
Reading my own words and advice is a tradition I look forward to. Better yet is the act of sitting down to write my fresh letter the next day. For this process I like to create a space that keeps me present:
- Remove distractions, especially technology
- Light candles while dimming unnecessary lights
- Smudge, burn incense, saps, or use a diffuser with essential oils
- Steep & drink an aromatic cup of tea in a favourite mug, experiencing it with every sensation-- the warmth of the cup, the infusion of color, the aroma and taste
Note: The herb Euphrasia officinalis (Eyebright) energetically gives foresight and direction.
- Sit with alignment, either at a desk or meditation cushion on the floor
- Play soft music or instrumentals or sit in silence
- Skip the looseleaf paper and opt for beautiful stationary, wax seals/stickers, the works!
My biggest key for creating this space is giving myself ample time. Not forcing or rushing the process allows for clearer direction. I'll often read and re-read old letters, sit in meditation, drink my tea, then write when necessary.
The act of physically writing has been scientifically shown to activate your "right brain" or more creative aspect of your mind. So doodle, be tactile, and let those creative juices flow!
Set an Intention
This isn't truly a New Year's ritual for me, because I set my intention organically as shifts happen.
Setting an intention is much of the same process as above, requiring a deep introspection of how to align oneself. I find the most effective intentions are potent singular words that you can focus your attention towards.
An intention may be an action, or simply how you want to feel. An intention intensifies your actions allowing changes to manifest. For example, an intention of balance is both an action and how you want to feel. You may notice the subtle changes that unfold in your life the clearer your intention is.
A strong intention will allow you to become more authentic and connect to a deeper purpose.
For more on intention, see my article on using intention in 'fit'ness.
Create a Vision Board
I LOVE visuals and am drawn to beautiful aesthetic. A vision board is an incredible way to keep your intention in your awareness.
To me a vision board involves finding your dreams and making them happen. I love the versatility of a vision board because it could be in a frame, on a cork board or take over a wall. It utilizes a variety of multimedia so the possibilities are endless!
Historically, I've made private boards on Pinterest that serve as a vision board, but this year I'm hosting a vision board making party! It's best to do some brainstorming or have clear goals ahead of time, then socially create a visual that embodies it.
If you make a vision board, I'd love to see a picture! Tag me on instagram @bealutz.
Wishing you a 2017 full of abundance, clarity and loads of laughter.
All my love,