Rethink New Year Goals for Lasting Change
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Why should we rethink New Year Goals?
As the calendar rolls over to January 1st, society tells us it’s time to set new goals and make meaningful life changes. However, contrary to popular belief, the New Year might not be the best time for change. One reason is that during this time, we are often still in “wintering mode,” a state dictated by both the emotional and physical demands of the cold season. Understanding and acknowledging these impacts can help us set clearer and more achievable goals.
The Influence of Wintering
The struggle to fulfill New Year resolutions isn’t unfamiliar to many. One reason underlies this repeated setback— the influence of wintering mode. Winter, aside from being a physical season, affects us emotionally, leading us to draw inward, slow down, and dedicate more time to self-care.
It’s innate to feel a sense of hibernation and introspection during winter, which can make attempting significant changes complicated and challenging. The shortened daylight hours, cold temperatures and post-holiday fatigue often lead to lower energy levels and a desire for comfort and rest – not exactly the ideal conditions for embarking on major life changes.
While wintering mode is essential for rest and recuperation, it can sabotage our best-laid New Year plans. We cannot avoid the urge to disconnect and wind down during winter. Thus, we often set ourselves up for failure by imposing strict resolutions amidst a season supporting recovery and tranquillity. Forcing change during this period can lead to stress, dejection, and eventually, abandoned goals.
The Origins of New Year
The tradition of observing New Year’s Day on January 1st originated in 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII declared the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, which highlighted January 1st as the start of the year. However, there’s a compelling argument that this may not be the most suitable time for such turning-point resolutions and life changes because it comes during winter, a period often associated with hibernation and introspection, not radical transformation[1%5E].
An alternative perspective is present in astrological beliefs, which propose the ‘real’ New Year commences on the Spring Equinox, signaling a period of rebirth and renewal[2%5E]. In fact, many cultures celebrated New Year’s Day around this time, aligning it with the start of spring. Interestingly, April 1st was considered New Year’s Day in some circles until April Fools’ Day usurped its significance to become a day of jest and humor[3%5E].
Given these factors, it’s intriguing to explore the idea that New Year’s Day—and hence the time for profound resolutions—might better align with the start of spring, a time that naturally symbolizes new beginnings, renewal, and growth.
The key to personal transformation lies not in contending with wintering mode but in acknowledging and working with it. We need to respect our natural rhythms and cycles instead of fighting against them. When we align our personal change efforts with our emotional and physical states, we create a formula for authentic, lasting change.
To achieve this, consider setting flexible goals that allow room for wintering mode. Prioritize self-reflection and self-care, and understand that it’s okay to hold off on significant changes during this time. Focus on recovery, restoration, and contemplation now, and leave space for growth once wintering mode has passed.
Rather than seeing the winter period as a time for drastic transformations, view it as an opportunity for smaller, yet meaningful changes that respect your state of wintering. Establish healthy routines that bring joy and relaxation, find practices that connect you to your inner self-esteem, and create a sanctuary that supports your well-being. As spring approaches and your energy levels increase, you can then begin implementing larger goals and changes.
How Can I Rest during Winter?
Nourish your body
As the temperature drops, your body needs more energy to stay warm and healthy. So, wintering is an ideal time to focus on healthful, warm, and nourishing foods. Think soups, stews, root vegetables, and hearty grains. Maintaining a balanced, nutrient-dense diet can keep your energy levels steady, support your immune system, and enhance your overall well-being.
Incorporate mindful practices like meditation, yoga, or journaling into your daily routine. These activities can help you remain present, introspective, and connected to your physical and emotional states during the colder months. They can calm the mind, heighten self-awareness, and prepare you mentally and emotionally for the challenges ahead.
Prioritising self care
Wintering gives us the perfect reason to prioritize self-care—both physical and mental. This could involve indulging in your favorite creative activities, reading that long-pending book, or simply soaking in a warm bath. It’s about offering yourself the kindness you need, allowing you to rest and recharge.
As we navigate winter’s hold, let’s embrace our wintering mode instead of fighting it. By accepting this time as an essential period of rest, healing, and reflection we set ourselves up for more significant growth and lasting transformation. Let’s redefine our approach to personal change – because it’s not about when we start, but rather, how we sustain it.
MOVE WITH THE SEASONS
For a simple way to honour the cadence of nature, we have a candle for each of the four seasons, reflecting the natural aromas at each turn of the year. These help us to tune into the changing rhythms of nature and bring the outside in.
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