A new year brings with it the opportunity and promise of new beginnings and fresh starts. For many people, the new year is also an opportunity to set resolutions, goals or ambitions that they would like to reach in the course of the coming twelve months.
Yet, for many, those new year’s resolutions are quickly cast aside at the end of January, often having been deemed failures. So, is it that the resolutions themselves were doomed to fail from the very start? Or instead, was the perspective and the expectations attached to them incorrect?
A New Perspective on Resolutions
Many resolutions are deemed to have failed when people feel that they have no way to successfully achieve them. But what if, instead of setting resolutions for ourselves which have binary success/fail markers, we instead view them as ongoing practices or commitments?
By changing our perspective, we can avoid the common pitfalls or ‘failing’ in our resolutions before we’ve even really begun. By shifting our perspective, we can instead view our resolutions as acts that are not fixed, but instead are fluid and responsive. They are things which we are committed to working on and continuing to practice throughout the course of the year. Practice itself also allows us to reframe the resolution as an act/activity which we are not expected or required to get right first time around. We are, after all, practising. It also invites us to view it as an ongoing act with long-term benefits and encourages us to keep going and not to give up.
Resolutions To Support Wellbeing
In uncertain, shifting times, like the ones we are currently living through, committing to resolutions that aim to improve and support our wellbeing seem particularly appropriate. This year, we are choosing to find more fluid and responsive ways of living and supporting ourselves to develop greater resilience to deal with the unexpected challenges life may throw our way.
Finding a way to flow through challenging and uncertain times is a practice which requires time and patience. It is also a tool which we can use to help us cope with trying times throughout the course of our lives, not only this year, or this month. It enables us to cultivate a positive mindset and skills which we can deploy to help us navigate and respond to unexpected changes (both positive and negative).
Often, when confronted with challenge, the instinct may be to retreat or give up. It may be more tempting to try to find a way around the challenge, rather than to confront it and find a way to flow through it. Finding a fluid way of living invites us to adapt and improvise to changing situations. Instead of resisting or fighting against it, we instead learn to listen and become responsive to the situation. Rather than fearing the challenge, we seek ways to embrace opportunity and discovery.
The breath can shape how we react and respond to different contexts. It can affect our movement, our mood, our attitude. Learning to use the breath to help us find calm and stillness can be very powerful. Not only does it allow us to pause and ground ourselves, but it provides a moment of instant relief and paves the way for clarity. In times of high pressure and stress, taking a beat to simply breathe can offer instant support.
Similarly, by engaging in embodied practices, we have the opportunity to develop and open our awareness. By truly learning to actively listen to ourselves and those around us, we can become more responsive, as opposed to reactive. We can better understand our own needs and put in place timely measures to support ourselves, instead of allowing the pressure and fear that come with uncertainty to weigh us down.
Taking a simple minute to pause each day in quiet reflection or meditation can be a great way to begin to find stillness and slowly learn how to open our awareness to all the senses.
Another strategy is to simply take two to five minutes and allow a rhythm to move us. It could be a song, the sound of waves, the natural sounds of the woodlands around us, or simply our own breath as it moves through the body.
Allow these rhythms to inform how you move. Grant yourself permission to move and respond in any way that feels natural and right in that moment, without any preconceptions or worry about what it should look or feel like. Explore the shapes, the sensations, the emotions that such intuitive movements illicit. Then repeat it the next day. Take as long or as short a time as you want.
Committing To Resolutions
New habits and skills take time to fully acquire. The beauty of a new year’s resolution is that we have the entire year to practice it. There is no expectation that we have to get it right the first time (although we might do!) But, with resolutions that focus on supporting the self and our wellbeing, there is also no ‘right’ way of doing it.
It is an exploration, a personal skill that we are slowly nurturing. The key is perseverance. The only requirement is that we arrive and commit to the practice each day. It may only be a minute, or it may be an entire hour.
The ultimate benefit of this form of resolution is that it goes beyond the limited time in which we are actually practicing. Instead, the attitude, tools and change in perspective which are cultivated during the dedicated practice time can then be applied to a range of contexts and situations.
Rather than feeling fearful or overwhelmed by unexpected challenges, we can instead find ways to improvise and create new paths and rhythms. Although they may be different from those originally expected, the practice will provide us with the capacity and skills to explore and navigate our way through them.
Whatever the new year brings for you, we invite you to make a resolution dedicated to you and your wellbeing this year.
It may be something small, like taking one minute every day to mindfully breathe or meditate. You might decide to start journaling or engage in an embodied practice. Maybe you want to go on more walks, taking a minute to simply listen and respond to the environment. Or perhaps you want to eat more healthily and become more active.
However big or small your resolution is, we invite you to shift your perspective and view it as an ongoing practice. There is no set deadline or end point. You are allowed to fail and try again. The key is to not give up.
By dedicating a resolution to yourself, you create the space and opportunity to mentally and emotionally build your resilience and your wellbeing. The true benefit of such commitment lies not in the moment or act of doing it, but in the fortitude and support which it will provide you in all other aspects of your life.
We would love to know what resolutions, practices or commitments you are making this year, so please share them with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Happy New Year!