One of the things I love most about approaching a new year is that it can signify a new start, a new season, or a new chapter in your story.
It may really be ‘just another day’, but I still think that the start of a new year presents a unique opportunity to look back and to look forwards, to review and reassess, to choose what to leave behind in the year that’s past, and what to carry on into the next.
And reflecting back, there were certainly a lot of wonderful moments in 2018 for me, and I really want to take a moment to celebrate them here; things like family holidays, gaining two new nieces and a nephew, and also the engagements and weddings of several dear friends.
However, 2018 was also the year of accelerating climate change, a looming Brexit crisis, and there were a few rather more personal low points that I’m keen to move on from too, like ill health in the family, relationship difficulties, and miscarriage too.
But regardless of how you personally feel about your life over the past 12 months – good, bad or indifferent – the end of the year is still a chance to pause, to catch your breath, and to draw a few lines in the sand.
Of course, the astute reader will have already deduced that I am really not a big fan of new year’s resolutions from the title of this blog. They always feel so restrictive to me, and I just never really have the stick-ability to see any of them through.
Cue flashbacks to a few of my various, woeful past attempts:
Running daily? Trainers are still in the box at the bottom of my wardrobe.
Gym memberships? I got pregnant shortly after I signed up, and felt too ill, then too large, to bother.
Dry January? Let’s just say I’ve failed on every attempt. Why are there so many birthday in January anyway?
Healthier eating? I have more unused cookery books on the shelf in my kitchen than I will ever know what to do with.
Starting a new class? I just never seem able to get into any regularity or rhythm with these things, my evenings are just too busy and full as it is.
Better budgeting? Does having more banks accounts and cards for different things than ever before count as making a dint?
I could go on and on … but I’m sure you get the gist. New Year’s resolutions are simply just not for me. It all just feels too much like setting myself up to fail. And let’s face it, nobody really wants to start the new year failing hard and fast…
So this January, even though I am still in search of that much needed fresh start, I am absolutely and totally boycotting all new year’s resolutions altogether.
Instead, I have decided that I want to focus on strengthening certain values in my life; because I think that your values can shape your life and affect change in a far meaningful and lasting kind of way…
So the question I am posing to myself (and to others) this New Year is simply this:
What value do I (you) most want to shape my (your) life in this coming year?
And can I (you) distill it down into a single word or phrase?
I have already decided that my own word for 2019 is ‘Joy’ because I want that value to be more present in my life during this coming year.
This is because I want to get better at the practice of joyful living, regardless of my circumstances. And I also want to learn to lighten up a bit (my husband says I need to!), to become more ‘glass half full’ and to get better at celebrating the good in my life, rather than focusing on what I lack.
But you might want to choose a totally different value instead. So go ahead, have a think about it, pause, and reflect on it for a while …
Maybe it’s growing your ‘gratitude’ muscle, ‘slowing down’, practicing more ‘self care’, putting ‘family first’, having more ‘grace for yourself’ and for others where you feel critical, or perhaps it’s something else entirely…
Then, once you have identified your simple but year-defining word, write it down and just sit with for a while. Think about it in all of it’s different forms of expression. How might it look played out in different parts of your life? How might more awareness of that value affect you at work, at home, in how you spend your money or invest your time, in how you think about yourself, and in how you choose to relate to others as well?
And as 2019 begins, just choose to start living with it more in mind. You can do this by talking about it, reading about it, by seeking out others who already excel at it too, and by identifying simple ways to practice that value more in your everyday life.
For example, in order to become more joy-filled I am starting to get more intentional about seeking out ‘joy triggers’ in my life; be that live stand-up comedy and funny films, or just individuals in my life who seem to know how to laugh a lot, don’t take life too seriously, and seem to practice joy much better than I do.
I am also actively choosing silliness; because why not buy the impractical red high heels, or the pointless inflatable pink flamingo, or the outrageously expensive colour changing gin, if they make life a bit more colourful and fun? Not everything in life always has to be so serious.
And I am also planning (and budgeting!) to pursue more of the things I enjoy this year such as reading more books, travelling abroad, seeing live music, family days out, and girls weekends away with some of my very best friends.
Perhaps you could also pin the word – or an inspiring quote that relates to it – to your fridge door, bathroom mirror, or somewhere else you will see it often, as a nudge to you to remember to keep living with it in mind.
And whilst I realise that this may not be a total panacea to everything that you want to improve in your life – why not at least try it out and have fun with the idea this year, rather than setting some impossibly high bar for yourself and then feeling lousy about yourself when you miss it?
Because unlike setting a New Year’s resolution that you are bound to break if you’re anything like me, with this ideas, there is no success and there is no failure – only endless opportunities to grow more of a positive value in your life. And what is not to love about that?
So finishing on that thought, all that remains is for me to wish you a very happy, resolution-free, and joy-filled start to 2019!