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New Year, New You? How to approach the New Year if Resolutions aren’t your thing

Happy New Year friends and welcome to 2017!!

By many accounts, 2016 was a terrible year, one of the worst in recent memory.

I don’t like to think about a whole year being “bad”. I’d prefer to think that any year is what we make of it, which got me thinking about New Year’s Resolutions.

I had intended on saying that New Year’s Resolutions aren’t really my thing, but in fact, when I really got down to thinking, I realised that I’ve never made a New Year’s Resolution.

I set goals for myself and implement systems and am always working towards something or other. They’ve just never really coincided with the start of a new year or been packaged neatly into a New Year’s Resolution. I mean, who needs all the extra pressure of the New Year to have our resolutions unraveling before we hit mid-Feb (if we’re lucky), anyway?

But this year, on the trip home from a New Year’s Eve weekend away, crammed into a tiny Holden Barina with some of my favourite humans and about a hundred overnight bags and pillows and snacks piled so high we could barely see over them, my sister decided we should share our New Year’s Resolutions.

On telling her that I didn’t have a resolution, she insisted I listen to everyone else, then think up my very own. I agreed to hear what my three travel companions had to say but made no promises that I would then play along and produce a New Year’s Resolution.

As it turns out, it didn’t feel like just an exercise to pass time on a long, monotonous drive. I actually felt privileged that these three very special people in my life had shared with me their greatest hopes, plans and goals for 2017.

My fellow passengers shared New Year’s Resolutions that were neither superficial nor cheesy. There was not an “exercise more” or “eat better” in sight (although power to you if this is your resolution! We can all do with more of this after the holidays!). These resolutions were balanced and carefully thought out, and will help their owner’s focus on achieving goals across many aspects of their lives. There were resolutions about improving self-discipline, being more focused, learning new skills, and bringing these into their everyday lives to reduce stress, increase productivity and improve wellbeing.

So there was nothing left to do but come up with my own New Year’s Resolution. I only gave myself a few minutes to think knowing the moment would quickly pass. I tumbled out a few awkward sentences that essentially summed up a few of my current goals for 2017 but it didn’t feel like I’d quite perfected it or articulated myself particularly well.

So, over the following few days, I enlisted help from the trusty internet and waded through a veritable mountain of articles and podcasts on the topic of New Year’s Resolutions – all taking a slightly different stance that added to my current approach and thinking.

Three that I found most interesting and helpful to consider in my newfound quest to define my 2017 New Year’s Resolution are included below for your reading pleasure.

  1. Up first is Leandra Medine, Man Repeller extraordinaire and woman after my own heart, who spoke about New Year’s Resolutions in her podcast, Monocycle. She stated that 2016 taught her that it’s okay not to have any grand resolutions at the start of each new year because it’s okay to be happy and comfortable in yourself – just as you are. What’s not to adore about starting the year out with a healthy dose of self-love?!   
  2. Next up is Tim Ferriss who takes another view entirely in his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. Tim did away with New Year’s Resolutions years ago and instead opts to do an in-depth analysis of the previous year with the help of a series of exercises and questions he’s developed, the answers to which help him tailor some specific changes in the following year. He steps through his approach in the episode “2016 – What I’ve Learned”. There’s some great stuff in there to really get you thinking!
  3. The inimitable and inspiring Mia Freedman’s approach is different again. Like both Leandra and Tim, Mia has done away with New Year’s Resolutions because who has ever stuck to one anyway? To replace resolutions that are doomed to fail, Mia recommends selecting just one word to help set your intention for the year. Last year Mia chose “Create” which helped her write a novel and dive back into the creative side of her business. This year it’s “Release”. As in releasing her book into the world but also releasing her grip and intensity in day-to-day life to help her feel that little bit lighter and freer.  

In the end, I’ve taken pieces of each element but it was Mia’s one-word approach that I decided to go with. It’s simple. It’s concise. It’s powerful without being too narrow or inflexible. It will lend itself to many aspects of my life and help to gently but surely steer me in the right direction.

I came up with a long list of potential word contenders but as soon as I hit the word, I knew I’d found it. It sums up the clunkily worded resolution I spun off the top of my head in the car on New Year’s Day but also encompasses so much more, which is why it feels so right.

So my word for 2017? …..

Embrace.

Embrace change, embrace opportunity, embrace the present moment, embrace my family (literally) and cherish those moments. Embrace who I am and where I’m going. Embrace the bad hair days, the sleep-ins when I should be getting ready for work, the glass of wine (or two) with dinner and the days spent binge watching 2017’s answer to Stranger Things while the overflowing washing basket glares at me from behind the laundry door. Embrace it all and be thankful for everything that 2017 is bound to throw at me.  

So with that, I encourage you to click through those links, read the articles, listen to the podcasts, find out what some of your other favourite writers, thinkers and personalities are saying about resolutions and find something that works for you. You might be like Leandra and decide to embrace (there it is again) who you are, just as you are. Or you might borrow a few of Tim’s tools to dissect 2016 and use the data you uncover to make some changes in 2017. You might choose a word, set an intention or write a whole essay about it. Whatever you decide, I’ve realised that maybe there is some merit in a New Year’s Resolution – a resolution that’s right for you – and for taking a few moments to pause in your busy life, taking stock and setting yourself up to succeed in 2017.

How do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Have you ever stuck to one? Will this year be different?

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2 Comments

  • Reply Steph

    I too am a sceptic of the ol’ ‘New Year’s Resolutions’. It can come across as a sensationalised concept around exercise, diets, bla bla bla (thanks media). But you can’t deny the importance of reflecting on the year that’s past. Taking some time to think about what you’d like the new year to hold, what you want to achieve, do, feel, and how you’d like to be. I’m glad my persistence helped you gather your thoughts. I love the one word concept. Embrace it all sister xxx

    January 5, 2017 at 12:52 am
    • Reply Bec

      Thanks for your comment, Steph, and thanks for the overall inspiration for this post! We should road trip together more often 😉
      And can’t agree more, there’s always merit in taking time out to reflect on what has been and use it to help plan for the future. That time doesn’t necessarily have to be the start of a New Year, but it does seem like a natural time to pause during the Christmas break and with so many new beginnings coinciding with the start of any given year. Bec

      January 9, 2017 at 8:46 am

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