As each year draws to a close, everybody becomes slightly frantic about setting goals for the new year. ‘New Year, New You’ is the familiar and regularly repeated phrase and is also a phrase which generally stresses me out. Why do we feel that we need a whole new person to appear with each coming year? What was wrong with the person that helped us get through the year just gone?
Now there is a certain sense in this phrase. Currently, both my personal yoga practice and yoga classes are focusing on the act of setting intentions for 2018 whilst simultaneously letting go of 2017. So, in part, I am encouraging the start of a new chapter in life but not in the sense of evolving into a completely new person.
New Year goals and aims often tend to gravitate towards the negative aspects of the previous year. ‘I must not eat as much chocolate’ or ‘I need to exercise more’ or ‘I need to lose 10 pounds’. These are all very well and good but they all derive from things people often see as negative about themselves. Instead, what I propose and try to encourage myself and students to do, is use this time to reflect on the year that has just been. Think of 3 – 5 things (or more if you can!) which have been incredibly positive experiences for you this year, no matter how big or small. Acts, moments, anything which resonates with you and fills you with happiness and gratitude. Meditate on these aspects of your life, allow them to manifest within you and use them to help set out some new intentions for the New Year.
For example, my 5 things which I am grateful for this year:
- My family and friends
- My business
- My personal growth
- My yoga practice
- The incredible places I have travelled
What do I take from these points to help me set intentions for 2018?
- Continue making time and effort with my friends and family – they make me happy.
- Maintain a positive and determined outlook in regards to my business. I will make it successful.
- Try to travel to at least one new place next year (and every year after!)
- Continue to develop and maintain my yoga and meditation practice every day – on and off the mat!
Already, I have 4 intentions which I am happy about maintaining. I therefore have more incentive to continue them, as I have already managed to do so this year. And, most importantly, they are all derived from positive parts of 2017.
Next, having focussed on the good and having set some achievable goals which are derived from the happy aspects of my life, we can move to those more negative parts of the year. I am always slightly hesitant to use the word ‘negative’ in relation to life, as we can still learn a great deal – therefore, no longer being such negative aspects anymore! Either way, however you would like to label them, we do need to reflect on them.
So, take that time to meditate on those less fun times. Allow those feelings to pass through you and consciously learn from them. What could you do differently next time? Did it in fact lead you onto a brighter and more exciting venture? Did it open a door you had never expected? Find a positive from each, no matter how big or small and then let go. Actively try to release those moments. Once again, use them to educate yourself and set further intentions.
It is this practice of letting go which is perhaps the most important as we enter a new year. In order to move onto the next chapter of our lives, we need to try and leave the baggage of the previous one behind us. Just as a character develops in a book, so should we. Each year is not about finding the ‘new you’ it is about taking a step forward, building upon those foundations which we have so carefully laid out for ourselves since the beginning of our lives. Whatever has happened to us previously, has created the person we are today and it is our job to keep learning from both the good and the bad so we can keep growing and developing naturally as a person.
So when you next begin thinking of all those new years resolutions, by all means feel free to add in ones which focus on your weight or your exercise regime. But also take the time to set yourself goals which don’t reject the you of previous years and instead encourage you to further yourself and bring positivity to your new chapter in life.