The Power of New Beginnings and Kindness in Non-Resolutions

I never make New Year’s resolutions.   Not anymore.

Let me be clear, I have forever been an enthusiastic lover of new beginnings  – and the new year is the epitome of new beginnings.   I also love to reflect on the past, dream about the future, and make a plan to get where I want to go.   I get such peace from planning and reflecting.

So, I used to be a rabid resolution maker.  Slowly though, I became discouraged with my, rather extensive, list of resolutions, and how I never really achieved the drastic change I set for myself.  It’s so frustrating to set goals for yourself just to never realize them…and it opens us up to being hard on ourselves. 

The irony of this is not lost me…I make these arbitrary goals and I don’t hit them as I unrealistically plan to…all of this, every single bit is something I put on myself.  All of the angst of not holding my resolutions adds some made-up tension in my life.  Something I could simply let go of.  Stop gripping it so tightly and choose joy!  Honestly!  Let’s have some more kindness and LOVE.  All that self-flagellation is exhausting and was (whom I kidding, IS) stealing our joy. 

Now, to be sure, I am an ambitious person and I love stretching myself and overcoming challenges, so getting rid of resolutions and goal setting completely does not serve me either, but I needed a new way to bring meaning to goals and to set goals that I actually WANT to achieve.  

So several years ago, I started connecting my goals to my emotions and values, because honestly, I’m not doing a thing unless my heart is in it.  Truly.  No matter how hard I am on myself.  I am just as stubborn at not doing I thing I don’t REALLY want to do.

Lose 20 pounds, sure that sounds nice…but what I REALLY want is to be strong and healthy.  Not fitting into my jeans isn’t going to motivate me to make changes to my life, but not being able to keep up on a hike with friends…that’s motivating for me as all get out. 

So what did my New Year’s ritual become?  

First, I began a practice of reflecting on the year before, journalling on the lessons I learned in the last year and celebrating the highs of my life!  (we don’t celebrate our achievements nearly enough)

Then I began giving myself a focus for the year.  Or a word…like freedom, or abundance.  I brought that word to mind when I added new projects and plans into my life, as a sort of litmus test.

Also, I looked at the areas in my life that were important to me, like love, money, home, work, community, and I chose a value statement or words for each of those areas. That value statement was sort of an intention for how I wanted to feel in each area of my life.  

Here’s my list from 2012!  (it’s kind of fun to see these from years gone by and see how in some areas, I am vastly different and in some, I am striving for that thing still!)

Values for 2012 – The Year of Balance
1. Health – Be kind and loving to myself and strong and capable of any feat!
2. Financial Security – Be free and work less.
3. Making a Difference – Be connected and giving.
4. Spiritual Peace – Find and honor my path.
5. Love – Maintain Peace and respect through conflict

~Under each area of my life, I then gave myself 3 or so steps that support those values.
Kind of like this…
1. Health – Be kind and loving to myself and strong and capable of any feat!
– eat until I am 80% full most of the time
– plan weekly hiking/walking dates with a friend
– do sun salutations each morning

If I fell off the wagon on a particular step, that’s okay.  First of all, it’s okay because it is simply ok.  Second of all, it’s okay because there are multiple ways to get the value or feeling I am shooting for and I can simply choose something else that I will love doing and fits that value.

I did this value-based New Year’s Eve ritual for years and it’s still part of my ritual, but it’s evolved.

Two years ago, I read Do Less by Kate Northrup and loved the idea of ensuring that I am doing the things in life that are truly important for my life’s purpose and taking care of myself in the meantime, because as I recently was reminded of in The Gift by Dr. Edith Eger (sooooo so good) and Untamed by Glennon Doyle, the only person I will be in a relationship with for my whole life is me.  It’s my job to take care of me.   No one else’s.

I have a tendency to push myself and, in turn, be hard on myself.  And that desire to challenge myself and strive is unlikely to change, and truthfully I don’t want it to, but if I’m not interested in continuing the “hard-on-myself” bit.

Prioritize your boulders.

So, for the last couple of years, I’ve included a list of my “boulders” in my New Year’s ritual.  Boulders, being the things in my life that feed my soul.  (Do you remember that parable where you imaging your life energy/time as a jar and all the parts of life are boulders (important things that make life lovely), stones (work, responsibilities), sand (like social media or mindless and ultimately time-sucking activities)? If you fill your jar up with sand and stones first, there will be no room for the boulders in your life. But if you put the boulders in first, then between them there is room for the stones and sand to settle in.) Boulders need to be planned and included in my life before anything else to ensure that I have the space and love to give to others as I want and to fulfill the responsibilities of my life.  

They are the things that bring joy and peace into my life and thus make everything else easier.
Things like – a morning routine (that includes equal parts movement, mediation, and learning/growth), a weekly friend date, reading or making something most every day, 7-8 hours of sleep, weekly nature adventures with Ellis.

Then into my calendar goes boulders like – two-weekend camping trips a year with friends, monthly women’s circle, 2 solo weekends a year to reconnect to myself…you get the idea.  

Honestly, these don’t always happen, but I know that if I’m feeling off-kilter, I’m likely not getting enough of them in my daily life and it’s time to re-prioritize my time.  Because no one is going to make room in my life for these to happen but me.

Your boulders are likely to look different than mine, but I believe it’s so important to take the time to figure out what your boulders are and give them priority in your life. After all, we have this one life, and the more we can embrace joy and taking care of ourselves, the more we give everyone around us permission to do so.

No. It’s not too late.

Oh, and you may be saying, but it’s too late for a New Year’s ritual!
It’s nearly mid-January. Well, to that I say “hogwash”. My New Year’s ritual and reflection rarely happen on January 1st. Although sometimes they do. They happen when the timing is right, most often around this time. You won’t miss the start line. It’s yours to set, and reset as needed.

Oh hey, sometimes I even get out the ole’ magazines and do a mood board for the year…that’s a crafty, gluey good time!

How do you honor new beginnings? Share with me by hitting reply. It’s just me here and I love to connect.

In Deep Kinship,