We all know the cycle. After two months of holiday parties and feasts, the cold dawn of January and light wallets bring us back to reality. Our spirits become invigorated for a fresh start and new beginnings. Promises are made, gym memberships paid for and alcohol is shunned.
Fast forward three months to broken promises and gym shorts sitting forgotten for happy hour at the local pub!
Breaking new years resolutions is as traditional as making the resolutions themselves. Because in reality we make change when we are ready to, not when some imaginary calendar system that we all made up as humans says so.
Despite this truth, there is something to be gained from the spark of energy created when we as a people across THE WORLD celebrate another revolution around the sun.
The occurrence of us all celebrating together across the globe is so rare. It’s no wonder we are inspired to be our best selves when it happens! Now what if we used this inspiration to do an audit of whether we lived up to our proclaimed values?
It’s easy for us to assume we are living life in a way that we approve, but the truth is we have a skewed perspective when it comes to ourselves. We humans are just animals.
Though we don’t always want to admit it, we’re all emotional. Emotions are great for telling us what is important to us or where we need to heal. However we need our rational brains to step in and help guide us through these emotions.
For example, two of my values are open-mindedness and compassion. In order to live by these values I have to react with inquisitiveness before judgement. So when a person reacts to me by screaming at me or saying something mean, I should take a step back and try to understand why.
Something I try to remind myself is “For all I know, their mother could have just died”. It sounds bleak, but it really forces me to consider the truth that I have no understanding of their perspective. Also, I can sure as hell remember times when I’ve yelled or said something mean because of pain that had nothing to do with the person in front of me.
And while I would love to report that I always respond with the grace of a diplomat who meditates daily and grew up in the world’s first perfect household, I do sometimes fail to live up to these values.
Sometimes I snap back angrily because I am scared or one of my pain points has been triggered. I’m not perfect just like you. But I can honestly say that on the whole I have more interactions full of peace and growth than if I did not covet the values of open-mindedness and compassion.
I also know to apply this to myself, because sometimes you need to be compassionate to your own need to protect yourself in certain situations. It is not always easy to tell, which is why a sincere and gentle review of ourselves is needed when it comes to checking in with our values.
Having written my values down reminds me to make decisions that align with these traits, whether it be in my music career or relationships with others. We as a world can take this mindset into each New Year.
I will close with an example of how useful this practice can be. Let’s say you have a resolution to “look better”, which traditionally means being more fit and reaching a certain weight. A vain, but worthy goal to have!
If you value discipline and health, the superficial goal of looking better will come in addition to bonuses in other areas of your life like showing up for your loved ones, having more energy and accomplishing more life goals.
The value of “health” requires us to not only check in with our physical health, but mental and spiritual/heart health. These aspects of ourselves are ever feeding off each other, and we can often learn there is a deeper root cause to our inability to make healthy eating and exercise choices.
On the other hand if our focus is just “looking good”, we can get lost in unhealthy weight loss methods or become overly critical and negative of ourselves for not losing weight fast enough (or gaining some back). And as a result of the self criticism, we start to silently (or loudly) become critical of others which can affect our relationships.
There is nothing wrong with superficial goals, it is when we make them the core of our values that we can lose the point of what makes the superficial goal truly valuable.
So this year, instead of resolutions, won’t you join me in doing a personal values review? Mine will be between me and my journal, but I’m sure others will have their own way of doing it whether it be with friends, family or via social media.
Whatever you chose I wish you growth and prosperity this year. May your feet always stray back to your true values after losing the path!