Q: Is it important to set resolutions for the new year?
Updated: Apr 17
Help with finding patience and compassion for ourselves as we work towards our goals.
January brings a sense of rebirth and excitement for what is to come. But it can also be a reminder of what changes we want to make, especially if we lost sight of those goals in the past couple months.
As we close the chapter of 2019, I like to take a moment to reflect on the journey that was this past year. During my yearly reflections, I often notice the situations that seemed so insurmountable at the time. Some of these challenges may be ongoing, but some seem to have faded away in the distance. Sometimes this happens because we have learned to bring a new perspective to the situation. And sometimes it fades simply because it is no longer serving us.
A lot of schools of thought, both ancient and contemporary, focus on the power of intention. Although I agree with having some clarity on what you want to accomplish and working towards a goal, there are a few things I want to point about doing this.
The first is patience. As we all know, the challenge with setting resolutions is that we often don’t “follow through” with these aspirations. I’d like to look at this a little differently. Working on ourselves and developing into the person we want to be takes time. More importantly, it certainly does not take a defined amount of time (i.e. by the end of the calendar year). If you have set out to accomplish something at the end of this year, is it really a failure if we accomplish it in 1 year, 2 years or 5 years? Furthermore, a lot can be gained from being patient and compassionate with ourselves, especially when we just aren’t where we’d like to be yet.
The second is related to detaching from outcomes. This builds on the idea of expectations that I have previously introduced. If there is something you are trying to willyourself to work through, achieve, etc., and it just isn’t happening, maybe you are focusing too much on the destination. I suppose this is also related to patience, but it is so important to remember that oftentimes things come in and out our life without much effort at all. For example, you may have tried for a decade to lose weight. And then all the sudden you find yourself working out everyday without much push or pull. Or maybe you’ve wanted to end an unhealthy relationship. At some point the turmoil and decision-making halts and a resolution comes without struggle.
In my experience, I have found this is how real change often happens for people. This is not say there is no hard work or effort needed to understand what is blocking you from getting to where you want to go. But it’s a much more organic experience than people often think. It’s important to recognize the “magic” at play when life is easier than we anticipated.
Your mind may be frustrated with this idea and think “but I really want xyz by the end of the year!” Be gentle with yourself. Sometimes this harshness and lack of compassion will be exactly what makes you stop working towards your goals. Think about the things you want to be different in your life and allow some trust that you will get there exactly when you’re supposed to.
As always, be kind and trust yourself.