Making Your New Year’s Resolution Last

 

Winter StupaA busy Holiday schedule can get in the way of making a Great Resolution…

The end of each year prompts many of us to reflect upon what has gone well and what has not.  In order to reflect appropriately, one needs time to really reflect on the past year and consider the goals to set for the year to come.  I usually forget to make a New Year’s resolution until minutes and some cases seconds before the New Year is rung in.  In recent years, it isn’t until a couple of weeks after the New Year has come and gone, in a great dawning of realization, that I had completely forgotten about making a New Year resolution at all!

The Holiday Season is like a Marathon, which isn’t helpful in Reflecting on the past year’s Ups and Downs

My relationship to New Year’s Day just doesn’t seem to facilitate ample time to reflect and make good resolutions.  I’m usually coming off a challenging holiday marathon of juggling work, social engagements and family time that began about a week before Thanksgiving.  By the time New Year’s rolls around I’m still digesting the holidays.  For many of us, finding more time in our day is like trying to squeeze into those jeans that were tight long before the holiday meals hit my thighs.  It just isn’t gonna happen no matter how hard I try.  Making a good New Year’s resolution by January 1st just isn’t going to happen for me.  If you can make it work, all the more power to you.  Go for it.  Personally, I had to find a way that worked with my hectic holiday schedule.

Find a New Year date that works into your schedule

In Shambhala Buddhism, we celebrate the Tibetan New Year which occurs weeks after the Western New Year on January 1st.  Many of you may be familiar with the Chinese New Year but probably know little about it.  Well, the Tibetan and Chinese New Year follow the lunar calendar (each has it’s own interpretation of when to celebrate on the lunar cycle so they often occur a couple of weeks apart).  The lunar calendar ends at different times each year but almost always ends several weeks after January 1st.  Over the years, I have begun to appreciate this timing because it has allowed me to actually begin to recover from the holidays, not beat myself up over missing the opportunity to make a really good New Year’s resolution.  I find that there is ample time to process where I have been and what I want to work on in the coming year.

Synchronizing with the Cycles of Nature

Part of the view of following the lunar New Year is that there are natural cycles one can follow.  The end of the lunar year is actually a time to pull inward and gather energy.  Loose ends should be taken care of and nothing new should be started.  This period of time is during the dreariest part of winter, late winter.  So it actually feels quite natural to pull inward and use my energy to take care of unfinished business.  Anyway, it always felt a little forced to go out and try to make all these wonderful things happen right after New Year’s Day.  The truth was that I really just wanted to curl up and be quiet after the holidays.  It makes more sense to me to work with the natural cycles of our environment.

Helpful tips for making a New Year’s resolution

Whether we remember it on time or not, there is no better way to instill positive change in one’s life than to reflect on the past and make goals for the future.  My meditation and psychotherapy practice have taught me some helpful tips about making resolutions last.

Cultivate New Growth

  • Give yourself time to Reflect
  • Consider: How has the past year has been for you?  What worked well and what did not work out so well?  How do you feel about where your life is right now?  What would you like to work on?
  • Allow yourself to connect with Appreciation for what went well and also gratitude for the difficult situations that may have helped you gain clarity and insight.
  • Resolve to work on the challenging situations in your life with an open heart and mind.
  • Make a Simple List of things you would like to work on in the next year.
  • Set Goals with realistic expectations: realistic expectations have short term and long term goals that are flexible and allow for modification.
  • Recommit often to your inspiration for positive change this year.

Setting goals and working with natural cycles is a winning combo

Research shows that highly successful people tend to make lists and set goals.  Personally, I think it is important to connect with appreciation and gratitude or our good intentions for change just becomes another project for our ego to puff up around.  Each year an opportunity presents itself for us to reflect and consider what we want to cultivate in our world.  This is a great time to deepen our appreciation and instill powerful intentions around our behavior and impact in the future.

This year, the Tibetan New Year will be on March 5th.  I will have plenty of time to take care of loose ends, consider this past year and make goals for the year to come.  There doesn’t have to be a rush to get through this.  When the lunar New Year arrives, I will have recovered from the holidays and winter.  Spring will be on it’s way and celebrating the end of a full cycle and the beginning of a new one will be a welcome change.

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