Yesterday, I sat in a coffee shop situated in a small corner of France and listened to two men talk amongst themselves. They spoke passionately about the New Year. First, asking one another how they had celebrated the holiday.
The first man spoke vivaciously about his goals, his step by step formula to achieve success in the new year. He spoke about his business, his finances, and his home. How he wanted each one to prosper, and grow larger than it had in 2018. He spoke about the vision boards he make each year for each facet of his life, for the goals and the changes to come.
The other man spoke just as fervently about his distaste for the New Year tradition. He explained that planning out his entire year set unrealistic expectations for himself. In fact, the intention setting felt forced and convoluted, out of alignment with where he was in his own cycle. He longed to go with his own flow, to embrace the beauty in his life and simply do what made him feel in good and fulfilled him from moment to moment.
Both men looked at one another with love and compassion. But even so, they both quirked their heads to side, squinting one eye, not quite understanding the other’s mentality.
I sat smiling, with my tiny leather journal in hand, looking down at my own new years ritual.
In many ways, I understand what both men were saying. After all, my new years practice falls somewhere in the center of each man’s mentality.
But here’s what I know about the first man’s mentality, the goal setting, the expectation creating: it can all too easily become a trap.
We have been taught to set goals like:
Be more outgoing, and make new friends
Go to the gym 9 days a week (wink, wink)
Only turn on your television for 30 minutes a week
Obtain your dream job immediately so your family will finally be proud of you
Work hard enough to buy the house you can’t afford
All these goals revolve around two things: one, societies expectations of our success, and two, changing ourselves into something we believe is better.
To me, New Years isn’t about changing who I am. Not at all. New Year, New Me is an incredibly warped mantra, filled with unhealthy undertones and expectations.
Instead, New Years is about entering a fresh year with the intention of self-care, pursuing pleasure, and high vibrations.
Instead of changing myself, it’s about caring for myself!
It’s also about giving gratitude for the current year, for everything I’ve accomplished, for all the rad people who supported me, cats I pet, and yummy meals I ate!
So, each year I write:
Something I am grateful for in the current year
Something I have accomplished in the current year
And lastly, compassionate and loving goals or visions for the coming year
In order to really show you what I mean about gratitude, self-care and the pursuit of pleasure I’ll share with you a condensed version of my lists (which go on for pages and pages — I am a writer after all). You will notice that the lists below are nothing like the list of goals above.
Dance - open floor, 5R and ecstatic
Luna - my car home
Summer blackberry picking and naked river swimming
The Co-Ops delectable lunch bar and sandwiches, and Whole Foods salad bar
My Girl Gang Support — so many words of encouragement, IG reposts, and tearful hugs
I launched Empowered Wanderer — eyyy!
I co-created and co-hosted a Women’s Retreat
I chose myself
I quit my job (two, actually)
I practiced my mantras and shifted my worry into positive thinking (sometimes hehe)
More love for myself, with compassion and understanding when it’s real fucking hard
More words to be written
More time in the mountains
More dancing, singing and belly laughing
More healthy boundaries that care for you and your needs
And as always, more freedom
I also have goals like drink healthy amounts of water, wear my retainer more often, and work towards being published in a rad feminist publication — but these feel like self care too. Because every time I sit down and read my goals I smile. Instead of feeling afraid, or overwhelmed; instead of having a whole action plan on how I will change, better myself or my life, as if it’s not already good enough. I feel excited to continue the goodness, to continue to love myself, and to find opportunities along the way to bring myself even more joy, pleasure and freedom in the year ahead.
The new year is not about questioning your wholeness, your value. It’s not about making yourself change into something better, more whole, more worthy. Nah, no way! It’s about stepping into the new year with yourself, hand in hand, in the pursuit of what feels good to you!
So, I say fuck the plans to take over the world, to never eat pizza again, or entirely change your personality. Let’s switch things up and go for: “New Year, Not So New Me.” Because ya’ll you are whole, beautiful and powerful in every phase, just like the moon!
May this new year bring to you just what you need!