I purposely waited to write my Telos New Year newsletter until the end of January. I did not want to get caught up in the New Years resolution hoopla. Because rarely any of us live up to those resolutions.
In fact, only 16% of people follow through with their resolution. You’ve likely heard the reasons we “fail”. Too lofty. Too vague. Unrealistic. We lose interest in the resolution all together by January 18. In fact, most people will even make some semblance of the same resolution year after year. No matter the reason for failing to keep or fulfill your resolution, it’s clear they don’t work for most of us.
I have a couple of my own theories as to why resolutions don’t work. I'll share one. It has nothing to do with will power or lack of motivation to be a better you. It has to do with the season we make our resolution in.
Our recognition of the new year in the Western Hemisphere occurs during our coldest and darkest season— winter. This season is a time for hibernating and rest. You only have to look to nature to see what we should be doing. Plants go dormant, while animals either hibernate or sleep more, slow down, and eat less. There is no new birth in the winter. There is no resurrection of new life in the plant world. Simply put, life in nature slows or stops altogether until the sun wakes them up in the spring.
During the wintertime humans eat more warming foods with warming spices and slow cooked foods. Like stews, chilis, soups, casseroles, roasts, root vegetables, etc. It is a time for snuggling down, slowing down, sipping on warming drinks, and sitting by the fire playing games and reading books. It is not a time for a lot of extra movement or a lot of time outside. Winter is the season of dark cold days that lack sunshine and warmth. Not that I am advocating not moving or going outside. I’ve always loved running long runs in the wintertime, skiing, especially cross country. But, I don’t want to spend the day outside. I enjoy my activity then inside I go for a cup of hot tea and warming food while I sit by the fire. Yes, we should move in the winter, but for the most part most of us move less and less intensely. We should have seasons in our life where we slow down, just like nature does.
The summertime is a time for a lot of movement, cool refreshing and invigorating drinks, light salads, lots of greens and fresh fruit— fast energy generating foods and drinks that help feed the motivation we have to be outside doing something— moving. No matter if it is gardening or running. Summertime is the season of higher energy. Our motivation to be active is at its greatest. That cannot be said for the winter season. I truly believe that is one of the main reasons people cannot stick to their New Year’s resolutions if they involve going to a gym more, exercising more, eating less, moving more, etc. It’s not the season for that in nature, so how can it be for us in life? God made us to live in harmony with nature.
Putting unreasonable resolutions aside, it's always the season for change, for growth, for betterment of ourselves and our life. I invite you to resolve to practice attention and acceptance. Pay attention. What is the season? What is this feeling? Then accept it, and move from there. Maybe instead of beating yourself up for not hitting that gym streak, you’ll take yourself for a walk instead. You'll talk kindly to yourself. You'll breathe a little deeper. Snuggle down with family or a good book. Self acceptance, seasonal acceptance, motivational acceptance. Take a page from creation’s handbook and just be here now. You are enough.