So straight from the off, I know the new year can be a very contentious issue. Some love it, some hate it, some aren’t bothered by it in the slightest – “its just another day”.
There is no right or wrong answer, your feelings and experiences of the whole new year thing, form your own opinion on what it is like.
Anyway, what I’d like to cover with you in this blog, is:
- Pitfalls of the New Year Revolution
- Why it is still great to use the New Year to bring New Focus?
- Good ways to use New Focus.
So I guess the ideology of a new year, or the philosophy, or idea, is that it symbolises a fresh start, a new horizon, a time when you can leave all the baggage of the last year behind and be the person you think you should be.
This person could be influenced by the things you see that others have. This could be material, such as a nice house, nice car, what you perceive as great relationships, or even what you perceive as a great body. Well these ones are easy to achieve right?
I just need to get a job that pays well. I know, I’ll start applying for loads of jobs, I’m bound to get one.
Relationships! That’s easy too, I’ll set up some profiles on dating sites, get me a load of dates and I’m set. Maybe I’ll just date anyone and try my hardest to “behave” and “make it work”.
And the perfect beach body, well come on, it’s hard to improve on perfection 🙂 but to really bring it home, I’ll join a gym, buy a book on dieting to get the perfect beach bod in 1 month and be ripped in no time.
Oh yeah, and I’ll stop drinking for the month too, that’s something else I’ve seen – but just for the record, I’m getting hammered on the 1st Feb, who’s coming out on 1st Feb with me???
Wow, I feel great already and it’s only the 3rd Jan. This new year new me stuff is easy!!!
OK then, some of that is a bit tongue in cheek, but there’s quite a bit of truth there as well. I bet that some if not all of that sounds a little familiar right?
It all definitely sounds great, but is it realistic? Are we just setting ourselves up for a fall? Are there better ways to approach this?
Should we not focus on New Year New Me, but New Year Same Me – just better? Is it unrealistic to all of a sudden become a new person, when I bet you’re pretty awesome already (like me 😉 ) but there’s always room for improvement?
pitfalls of the new year revolution
Right, so I’ve deliberately called it a new year revolution, not resolution. Let me explain why.
A resolution means to make a firm decision to do or not do something. It sets out an aim, an intention or an aspiration. Which is great in my opinion, and this is the sort of stuff I personally think we should focus on.
The reason I’ve used the word ‘revolution’, is that I think it sounds more appropriate for the things we usually say we’re going to do in the new year. “I’m going to forcibly revolt against everything I currently am and change to a completely different regime!”
You may agree, you may not, but you probably get where I’m going with this.
The point I’m making is that we will often set ourselves unrealistic goals for the new year based on what we think we should be. Unrealistic goals means not only are we setting ourselves up for failure, there’s everything else that comes with that failure.
The disappointment that we didn’t reach our goals. We can become overly self critical, put ourselves down and this can lead to questioning our own self worth. These feelings of low self esteem can then put what can feel like a warm friendly arm around us and lead us back to the way we were last year, to all the things you don’t want to be!
In a nutshell, if you want to set yourself new goals, start small. Be realistic. Work out changes that can fit in with your lifestyle. Make a plan and find ways to stick to it. Making changes often includes stopping or creating new habits, so don’t underestimate this, that’s not to put you off even trying but look at ways to create new habits rather than just jumping in at the deep end and expecting them to stick.
Also, try not to fall in the trap of saying, “this year is going to be amazing!!!” You don’t know that, life may have thrown some hard times at you in the last year, that’s not to say it isn’t again.
Now it may sound like I’m being all doom and gloom here, I’m not, I’m being realistic. If you can manage your expectations, you can be more resilient when bad things do happen. Also, depending on what some of your aims for the new year are, they can also build up your resilience.
So instead of saying everything is going to be sunshine and lollipops this year, instead of setting unrealistic expectations that will only make you feel bad when they are shattered, be realistic.
Accept that things will happen that are out of your control, but aim to be the best you you can be and aim to be more resilient to deal with these things. Oh, and of course, enjoy the good times too. Live in the good moments, celebrate the good in your life!
why is it still great to use the new year to bring new focus?
Well as I’ve already mentioned, it’s a great time to symbolise a fresh new start – the start of a new year, a time to release and let go of things that life has thrown at you if you are able to do so.
And if you are like me, you may have indulged yourself over the festive period, your pants appear to have shrunk a size or two, the buttons on your tops feel a bit tighter, you find yourself out of breath after running up the stairs. So don’t dwell on this, accept it happened and use it as a motivator.
The new calendar year can be a great tool for setting new goals and new habits. Don’t just say I’m going to do this and assume you know the best way of getting there. Establish where you are now and call that point A. Work out realistically where you want to be and call that point B. That’s the easy part. Then work out what you need to do to get from point A to point B.
But be easy on yourself. For example, for that immediate beach body, don’t just set off going the gym everyday as the likelihood is, that’s too much to start with and you won’t maintain it.
Look at how you can form habits that will help you reach your goal. Maybe set a bedtime routine, to help you sleep better. Look at your eating and drinking habits. Start off by exercising once a week and build on from there. These small habits will start to form and you can go on from there! Give yourself a chance!
good ways to use new focus
So generally speaking, I think it is fair to say that our new year revolutions, sorry, resolutions 🙂 are often unrealistic, not what we actually want but what we think we should do and not maintainable.
But that said, they all pretty much have the same desired outcome right? To make us a better version of our self and to make us feel better. Well who wouldn’t want that?!
So I’ve been doing some research, not just for this blog, but for myself, as I too set out to better myself in the year ahead. After all, I wouldn’t advise and expect you to do something I wouldn’t.
So here’s some of the things I’ve found on huffpost.com that I think can make me a better version of myself and make me feel better about myself.
- Make this a year of growth – I for one think this sounds great. But first I’ll have to have a think about what this means to me. My first thoughts are: that I want to maintain and build on my mental health as this last year has been simply put, horrendous. I’m not going to say to myself, “I’m going to become the world’s leading authority on mental health, get a doctorate and become a professor, Yogi and fully enlightened, as this isn’t realistic. But I can do better and being more disciplined when it comes to mindfulness and meditation. I know exercise helps with my mental health, so how can I start to do more? Also, time with my family and friends helps, so what can I do here?
- Spend time doing the things I enjoy – what this means to me is self care. It’s commendable to do things for others all the time, but for some this isn’t sustainable and doesn’t meet the needs of the individual. So for me, I think I’ll, in fact I don’t ‘think’ I will, I WILL think about some of the things that bring me happiness that perhaps I’ve neglected over this last year, and start doing them again. These things don’t have to be huge, maybe you used to read more, so this could be as simple as turning off the tv and reading. For me, my mental health struggles have meant that I have fallen out of love with the guitar and singing, I want to try and get that passion back, so lets go for it.
- Stay true to yourself – now I know this sounds like a cheesy slogun or text off a poster with a cute kitten staring at you but think about what this actually means. For me it means removing all the ‘shoulds’ and ‘coulds’ from my life. Many many many hours of counselling helped me to realise that I used to try and be the person that I thought I should be, or the person that others might think I should be. This can lead down a dangerous path, it certainly did for me. So what does it mean? For me its about being who I am, no matter what. To not wear the masks that I have so effectively done in the past, it’s just not healthy. If this means you lose some friends along the way, then ask yourself what’s more important. John Lennon once said “being honest may not get you a lot of friends, but it’ll always get you the right ones.”
So there it is. My thoughts on not creating a new you, but a better version of you. Don’t let the new year get you down because you don’t think you’ll ever be this or that, what you see on TV or social media.
Be yourself as you’re already great, but just strive to grow.
If you are serious about being the best you you can be and want to start making real changes, I’ve created some tools that I use to help you on your way and I’m giving them away for free. All you need to do is provide me with your email address and I’ll send them to you. They are a:
- Mental Health Daily Checklist
- Goal Setting Tool
- Habits forming Tool
- Simple Mindfulness and Meditation Guide.
I’ll leave you with this thought. I was watching a short Russel Brand video and he was talking about the expectations we create as we grow and develop. The pressures we put ourselves under and the weight of what others think.
He used an analogy of an acorn, a seed that grows into the mighty oak tree. We don’t question that the amazing tree grows from such a small seed. The seed has no pressure to be this or that, just to develop into it’s true self.
That’s not word for word and I’m sure he said it more eloquently but you get the idea.
Take care of yourselves for the year ahead.