Cast your mind back, it's New Year’s Eve. For some, this is going to be the last night of alcohol indulgence before we attempt 'dry January'. Perhaps we have allowed ourselves some time during the Chrimbo Limbo (27th-31st Dec) to think about, and even discuss with friends and loved ones, our new year’s resolutions. Tomorrow these WILL begin. In the meantime, tonight WILL be a good night - it has to be, right? It is New Year’s Eve, after all.
But then reality bites; The cab is late. The rain flattens your freshly balayaged blow dry. You queue outside your new year's venue for two hours in -1 degrees. Midnight strikes as you finally reach the club cloakroom. Your espresso martini costs £18.00 so it ends up being the first of only two for the night. You wake up on 1st January with the hint of the flu and by 6pm it has taken full hold of your body. A week passes and now that you are finally back at work, the external darkness at 7am is so uninspiring that you find yourself longing for the emergence of springtime.
The end of January comes and you get frustrated that those resolutions, those good intentions, just simply haven't come into play. We look for reasons why - ' I had the flu', 'I was too tired', 'the detox exhausted me'....we might find ourselves feeling disillusioned, unmotivated and annoyed that we hadn't yet started that great new big idea or health kick. Fundamentally, we feel pressure. You are not alone; according to a study by The University of Bristol, 88% of people who set New Year's resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of those questioned were confident of success at the beginning. So why is this?
Why do we set ourselves the bigger goals and aspirations at a time when, quite frankly, we'd rather stay in bed with a good movie and our inevitable fluffy Christmas socks? Essentially, why January?
The whys and where-fore's have strong religious roots. Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. In the Medieval era, the knights took the "Peacock Vow" at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry. These do all tie in with the turning of the new calendar year and in this way creates a natural opening for new beginnings. However, I don't feel there is the recognition that, most certainly in the Northern hemisphere, it just does not work with our climate or our body's connection to it.
The problem, in my opinion, is timing. How many seeds grow in the UK in January? How many of our wild creatures choose January as the month to hunt and gather? The answer is very few, and I think the plants and animals have it right - January is the time to hibernate and reflect. It is not conducive to form great plans and initiate new projects in the month that sees the least daylight, the most illness and is, quite frankly, the least inspiring.
So how about we start a movement – ‘Spring Resolutions’. Let’s work with nature, and our inherent connection to it, by planting the seeds of our new ideas and resolutions at the same time we see bulbs emerging from the soil and new leaves growing on those tree’s. Greater motivation and productivity will surely ensue if we do.
But let’s keep it real. Through the evolution and popularisation of ‘new year’s resolutions’, the true essence of it has been lost. It has been supersized into setting goals that might be unrealistic even in the peak of summer, let alone the darkness of winter or emergence of spring. It started more simply and accessibly. The true resolutions start within, by connecting with our gratitude for what we already have and for those with whom we share love.
I think this lists it perfectly: