The beginning of the new year can feel like a massive let down.
In the lead up to it, we feel excited, seeing it as a fresh start. We see ourselves doing better, being better, leading healthier lives and eating healthier food.
Then comes January and nothing feels different. It's still cold and/or rainy. There are still, in the Western hemisphere anyway, very few hours of daylight. Rather than feeling bright, shiny and new, it can feel very much like more of the same old. After the fun of Christmas and the hope of new year's eve, it can be positively stale. We feel let down. We feel we've let ourselves down by not living up to the promises and resolutions we made ourselves.
So what do we do? As our new year's resolutions show signs of falling by the wayside, how do we get back to the shiny new start we had promised ourselves?
For myself, I've had to stop holding myself to ransom over failed resolutions. I treat the end of the year only as a chance to review and see where I would like do better next year. The operative phrase being "I would like" rather than "I should". I also know it's unrealistic to expect that immediately from January 1 I will become the better person I had imagined.
I give myself some goals and trust that I will either achieve them or work towards achieving them throughout the year. And throughout the year doesn't necessarily mean embarking upon everything from day one. It's fine to ease myself into the year. I also make sure I don't DEMAND anything of myself. Stern exhortation to do better has never worked for me.
I believe the thing that makes us give up on our goals faster than anything is the weight of our expectations. It's much nicer to grow into and want to achieve our goals than to grimly set about them because we know we SHOULD.
Most of January is a struggle so my best bet is to mentally hang on to what it is I want to achieve - even when I'm doing nothing towards it. By February, as the days get lighter and longer, I start to see and feel the sense of my goals. I also notice that actually, I have been doing some work towards my desired achievements.
So hang on in there through January. Do what you can. Jogging once a week is better than no jogging - even if you had promised yourself you would jog every evening. Don't lose sight of your goals - even when you're doing nothing about them. Even when you're doing the polar opposite - like having pizza for dinner when you had promised yourself a green juice diet. Know that you are aware of your goals. Know that you will do what you need to do.
January 1, after all, is an arbitrary new beginning. Your personal new year and rebirth can be at any time of the year that you choose - any time that has meaning for you. For many of us it's actually much more likely to be around the month of our birthday.
So let's remember to wear our expectations lightly and may we all have a very happy and productive 2018.