January is a weird month.
It starts off as a blank canvas full ideas and new goals. It is a time of hope, of thinking ahead, of starting fresh. All of these things are good. It is important to have days to ground yourself and dream a little.
However, if you are like me, you find that January quickly steers back into the same sort of routines and habits as you had in December. January 17 doesn’t have as much sparkle as January 1. This is also good. Routine and consistency are important to maintain balance and actually get things done.
Some people are all about the new years resolutions. Some people reject them entirely. I tend to take the middle road.
This is why: change doesn’t happen in one day. It’s a long game.
My entire life, and probably yours too, operates around living seasonally. There is a natural rhythm and shift to the year as we evolve and encounter new ideas, experiences and people. For me, this change happens both when I shift school semesters, and as the actual seasons, fall, winter, spring and summer, turn over.
I treat these shifts in seasons as mini “new years days.” I take them as cues to check in and think about where I want to continue growing. This works better than starting a big idea in January and hoping for the best. As you change, so will what you are learning. Intentionality and organic change, to me, are the best ways to grow on a level that matters.
Here is a question: do you actually want to do your “resolution” or are you doing it just because you think you should?
Is the change you are aiming for actually a conviction from your heart, or is it coming from an external place of showing off, fitting in, or doing the popular thing? One reason resolutions fade so quickly is because the person didn’t actually want it. I know that, personally, I can’t force myself into change I think I “should” do. If I decide I should exercise more, buying myself a gym membership or setting a timer to exercise isn’t going to do anything. I know that works for certain personalities, but I’ll just watch Netflix and let them take my money or let the timer run out unless I actually want to go exercise.
This is why I take the seasonal approach to resolutions. I let the change bubble up from what I am already learning, or what the shift in season is already bringing up in me. If I’m learning, right now, to be more patient, then my resolution is to be more patient. If I’m learning that I feel way better when I eat a certain way, then my resolution is to keep eating that way. If I realize that I want to travel, I’ll plan a trip. There’s my resolution.
It doesn’t matter if it is January 1 or May 22 or December 28. Any day can mark a new beginning or a new season.
Change doesn’t have a rigid start or end date. It is all about awareness and staying in tune with yourself.
P.S. I actually made a list of 10 questions I regularly ask myself during these seasonal shifts to get clarity about what I’m learning and what direction to take next. I’ve worked through these questions regularly since 2011 and, while they aren’t rocket science, they really help me when I’m feeling stuck or lost. I send them to you when you sign up for my newsletter.