New Year’s resolutions are nonsense. If you want to make changes to things that aren’t working in your life there is no need to wait until January 1st. You can change anytime you like and, in fact, you already do.
By the last days of January most people will have forgotten about their New Year resolutions let alone still be maintaining them. The gym car parks will be far less busy, the “dry January” aspirations will have given way to the odd glass of wine after a particularly arduous day in the office, and every other promise you made yourself which was rooted more in expectation than desire will have withered away to nothing much at all.
It’s no wonder that the last days of winter start to wear on us. The darkness and cold drains hope from even the most optimistic soul. Why then do we insist on challenging ourselves far beyond what is helpful or necessary?
When Daisy arrived in the late summer everything changed. My regime was altered and my world order shifted significantly. I had forgotten what it is to have a puppy, and to be committed to spending time with her. She is demanding and she taught me, in a few short weeks, an important lesson about letting go.
Since starting my business I had always felt the irrepressible urge to do more and more. To see more clients, to find more ways of helping people remotely, to do more writing on subjects that people might find helpful. It was relentless even though I enjoy it. But enjoyment doesn’t buy you more time, it just makes it less obvious when you are running short of it.
I realised that my moments were even more precious than I had already acknowledged, and I had to make better and more effective choices about what to do with the time that I have. I also had to learn more about how to be happily unproductive. Down time, rest and relaxation become perversely more important the busier you become, but they are often the first sacrifice we make.
Lists became even more important to my emotional balance than they were before, but it became clear that adding items to them with abandon led not to greater levels of achievement but instead to increased frustration and guilt. In response I determined never to have more than three things on a list. If I could protect myself from becoming overwhelmed by all the tasks I told myself I needed to complete I found that completing them became miraculously easier.
This morning, lying on the sofa with the dog in the early morning gloom I am reflecting on the past few nights and the number of times she has had me up to let her into the garden in the wee small hours. I don’t know what’s wrong with her, perhaps she’s been at the shortbread when I wasn’t looking. Whatever it is I have been left wearied by some short term sleep deprivation. But listening to the rain slap against the window, holding her soft head in the crook of my neck while she snores loudly into my face it’s hard to be too fed up. Whatever is happening and however frustrating it feels there is generally a way of seeing life which mitigates the pain. All that’s required is a determination to look for it.
Looking back at 2017 it’s easy to see the things that have changed. This is really the very best way of making resolutions, retrospectively. Instead of looking forward and deciding what might be best why not try just living and experiencing your life? You’ll almost certainly find that, if you have enough self regard, you’ll make the changes that are most needed. Looking back with satisfaction at what you’ve done to grow and improve is far more satisfying and foolproof that gazing into a future that none of us are familiar with and trying to guess what’s required.
Wishing you a very happy and peaceful New Year.