New Year’s resolutions. Although still very popular, I’ve noticed more of a negative connotation surrounding the yearly goal-setting. People are tired of making goals only to lose their way, tired of setting themselves up for failure, tired of being promised their dreams. And so, if you’re like me, you may have come from a way of thinking that makes you look down your nose a little at those excited about setting new resolutions and starting afresh.
And yet, the more I’ve considered this, the more I realize there is a very natural, even instinctual tug to start anew every year. This isn’t bad, unnatural, or just part of the hype–at least not in my opinion.
Transitions, change, death of the old ways and birth of the new–these are normal, natural, and healthy. We see a natural transition from the old year to the new, and the Christmas season neatly prepares the ground for a fresh start.
Christmas pulls us together and drives us to turn inward. We focus on family, old wounds, matters of the heart and soul. You see depression and anxiety crop up, therapists overbooked, suicide rates up. Why? I believe the inward and family pull of Christmas encourages us to turn to our inner worlds–worlds we may have been blind to or trying to distract ourselves from during the rest of the year. As we bump into old wounds, memories, emotions, we have the chance to let them pass through us. To acknowledge them, work through them, air them out, feel the emotions we’ve been pushing aside.
This naturally makes space for new growth. After Christmas ends and we turn to the new year, we have swept our internal house clean, moved the clutter, and created new space. Things that no longer serve us have been noted and addressed or removed, and we now have room for new things that serve us in the present moment.
It’s natural, then, once the house is cleared out and swept, to look for new, good furniture that will serve us better as we move forward. I believe this is the phenomena that so drives new year’s resolutions.
And it’s nothing to be scoffed at or derided. At the same time, our culture doesn’t teach us very well what to expect with change–how it works, what it looks like, how to keep it rolling. And so we set expectations and watch them crumble. We give up, turn to old habits, let them fester, clear them out during Christmas, and start again.
Wanting to start fresh and create new habits is good, healthy, and natural. I want to validate that urge, and I also want us to explore more about change and how to maintain it.
But first, post below! How do you view New Year’s resolutions? Why? What desires do you feel as you approach the new year?