New Year, Same Amazing Me
It's a brand new year and all around us is the annual buzz of people frantically starting off on new ventures, promoting offers, encouraging us to start ourselves anew; start that diet, make that change and DO IT BETTER than we did it last year. It's understandable, after a year of substantial change, loss and public suffering, that we might all have a particularly strong appetite for a new start.
New-ness is exciting; it's pure, it's fresh. There is certainly a lot of positivity to take from starting anew and it can be really beneficial to embrace new beginnings, whilst systematically letting go of the old.That being said, I personally don’t buy into the need to renew absolutely everything just because we're at the start of another journey around the sun and, in the interest of self-love and personal growth, I tend to shun the classic 'New Year, New Me' for the much more empowering motto: ‘New Year, Same Amazing Me’. My goal isn't to re-create myself, year on year, but instead to deepen my relationship with who I really am deep down, to love myself more deeply and to become even more of my true self this year than I was in the last. This, for me, is the great possibility of a fresh start.
Embracing and celebrating yourself and entering into a journey of self-discovery may well still contain elements of 'new': perhaps it will involve starting a new morning routine, finding a new vocabulary for talking to yourself about your body shape, or learning a new skill. New things are essential and important for growth, and the 'fresh slate' feeling of a brand new year, brand new month, brand new calendar is unmistakably satisfying and scintillating. Every new beginning has the possibility of sparking change and there really is a cosmic magic in hitting refresh and mentally re-setting the goal posts.
That all being said, there are a few ways in recent years that I have gone about marking this time of new beginnings, without resorting to the tradition of setting New Years Resolutions. (Personally I find that a resolution is too steadfast and applies way too much pressure, which can often lead to failure and a lowering of self-esteem,) Below are some of my suggestions for how you can set yourself some positive intentions for a new year ahead and make some positive steps on your journey towards self-love and acceptance.
Reflect on the year that's been
Every year, around the last week of December or the first week of January (this year I actually did this at about 1am on January 1st, because the mood struck me, but the precise timing really doesn't matter), I sit down and I make a spider diagram of the year that's been. This might contain any overwhelming feelings that the year has brought up, good points, bad points, achievements and disappointments, highs and lows.
2. Set some positive intentions for the year to come
Once I have reflected on the year that's been, I make a second spider diagram for the year to come. In this diagram I write down my deep-seated wishes and desires (no matter how far-fetched they may seem), achievable goals I would like to set myself and possibly one or two daily habits I would like to change. The important rule here is not to write something down that is immeasurable or too specific. i.e. 'exercise more' is too generic and can too easily lead to a sense of failure. Instead I might set an intention to practice yoga three times a week, or to get out for a long walk at least once a week.
3. Check each list against the other
Whilst writing my intentions for the year ahead, I think about the less positive things that have happened this year and ask myself how I might be able to make positive changes to help resolve those things in the future. For example, if I had written down that my over-arching feeling for the year was 'stress', I might set an intention for the following year to spend more time practicing meditation or taking baths. Something that might help to reduce stress-levels, or perhaps remove the catalyst for that emotion altogether!
4. Look back over previous years' lists
This is probably the most beneficial part of this process. It always astounds me, when I look back over previous lists, the number of things that I have since achieved. We have a tendency, as human beings who are always striving to be better and do more, to forget to properly note our achievements and see them sitting within a wider perspective. For example, this year I looked back at my list for 2018. Among the many things I set myself as intentions and goals the year was my dream of undertaking my Yoga Teacher training. This year, not only have I achieved that dream but I've gone a stage further in the process, by setting up and teaching regular classes and building myself this website. (Starting a blog was, incidentally, also on that list!) Without looking back, it might be easy for me to forget to appreciate all of the successes and achievements I have had this year that three years ago were merely pipe dreams.
Setting intentions helps me to manifest states of mind and achievements into my life. It doesn't happen overnight, and there might be some things that you are writing on that list year after year before they finally happen. Or you might one day realise that you don't need those things anymore. The beauty of it is, nobody needs to know what these things are but you. It's not a list to sit and look at every day, or to beat yourself up over every time you eat a piece of cake or forget to go to the gym. I usually write them, leave them around for a week or so to check and edit, and then tidy them away for next year.
Allow the magic of carving out sacred time for yourself to settle these intentions deep into your bones; really sit and feel your year, honour your deepest wishes and fears and set these deep intentions down on paper. The act of writing them down will change the way you respond to situations and make decisions in the months to come and you will be amazed at the results in the long run.
This year, I make a deep commitment to myself and I invite you to do the same.
Happy New Year.