A Case for Skipping New Year’s Resolutions

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If you’re feelin’ the quiet darkness this time of year, I hope you’ll just roll with it.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post that was supposed to go out instead of this one – a post about how to make the most of the passage into the New Year. It was full of giddiness and excitement for a fresh start and an opportunity to say “goodbye” to old, tired 2015.

Then this week I realized that I’m actually kind of exhausted. I don’t feel like writing New Year’s resolutions or spending three hours “taking stock” of the past year so that I can plan for the next. I’m tired. I want to sleep and drink tea and read on the couch in my pajamas. I don’t really care about next year right now. I just want to hibernate and take advantage of the darkness, while it’s still socially acceptable to never leave the house after 4:30 in the afternoon.

I almost forced myself to go out and buy supplies to make a vision board. I almost set aside an afternoon this week to go all-in with the resolution-writing. I felt slothy and guilty for not starting on my taxes or coming up with a list of impassioned commitments for next year. Then I realized that there’s a nugget of wisdom in all of this: what I need to leave in 2015 is this sense of “should.” Ew, what an insidious, damaging word. Instead of feeling like I should do all of these things that aren’t actually fitting with where I’m at right now, I’m going to rest. I’m not going to feel guilty for needing to rejuvenate after an extremely busy, harried holiday season. I’m not going to feel guilty for reflecting on what I want out of 2016 later, when I have the energy to do it.

It turns out that in many ancient traditions, the “kick-off” to the new year didn’t actually happen until February 2nd, when the first signs of spring began to appear. In the Celtic tradition, this holiday was known as Imbolc, later in the Catholic tradition as Candlemas, and now known to many of us as Groundhog Day. These holidays celebrate the end of winter, the “quickening” of life, and the promise of the sun’s return. To me, that seems like a much more appropriate – and energetic – time to gear up for another year.

If you’re feeling worn out or drawn to hibernating at home with a good book, I hope you’ll just let yourself be nourished by the darkness of winter. This time of year, we’re meant to sink into the quiet, the stillness, and the depths, but too often we assume that we’re supposed to rally and kick off 2016 with boisterous energy that we don’t actually have. One of my teachers recently pointed out that we live in the winter as though it’s still the summer but with bad weather, which is so true!

The earth around us is resting for the new year so that it has the strength to bloom and be vibrant when it’s time. I’m going to take a cue from the Wild and our ancestors and sink deeper into my den until I feel ready to come to life again. I hope that if this idea resonates with you, that you’ll skip making personal resolutions or setting strategic business goals this week. I hope you’ll wait until you feel the passion for life and work return to you, whether it’s in February or later next year. Give yourself permission to nourish yourself this week even though society – or your boss – may be telling you to pretend like you didn’t just run a marathon over the holidays.

I know that if we allow ourselves to really be nourished during this dark and wintry time, we will dream up beautiful things for the coming year. Instead of resisting the dark and the cold, I want to surrender to and learn from it.

I’ll leave you with a beautiful quote by the French writer Jean Genet:

“(One) must dream a long time in order to act with grandeur, and dreaming is nursed in darkness.”


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2 thoughts on “A Case for Skipping New Year’s Resolutions

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