New year intentions: Do they really work?

The ending of one year and the beginning of a new one seems to create a social frenzy of detox and cleanse programs, diet and fitness challenges and pressure to set intentions and goals. In January each year from all directions we are struck by invitations to improve, develop, grow and perform and so many of us sign up for the perfect 30 day ‘transforming’ yoga or fitness challenge, the ‘one and only diet with real results’, the ‘life-changing’ self-esteem workshop or the like; with the sincere hope that post completing the fast and furious program we will be changed for life, anchored firmly to our true intentions and goals. Somehow, I notice this generally does not occur and people slowly decrease commitment and by February or march the complexity of life resumes and thoughts like “really must make time to do yoga this week”, “ i need to start cutting out carbs”, occur as we eat take away thai and play on social media on the couch.

It wasn’t enough that most of us are still recovering from the provocative family day of torture, where one day a year we try to tolerate Aunty Jane’s overcooked turkey, Uncle Franks alcoholism, rumours and whispers of who did what and when, and our over-entitled brothers broken promises of gifts that are to come and never seem to arrive.

What really is Christmas and new year about to you. To me, Christmas is about giving thanks and gratitude and a time to be spent with loved ones, not ones we feel obliged to love due to our genes and social norms. And the New year is one of renewal, reflection, recovering and restoration. Renewal of the things we love and appreciate in life, reflection on the joys and struggles, pains and gains from the year that has past; recovering from losses and unblocking true intentions and finally restoring our real authentic values and beliefs in environments, activities, and connections that best support these.

Any intention or goal to have any chance at sustaining success would do well as a SMART goal and one that you wholeheartedly truly desire and are prepared to commit to, despite challenges, not because the frenzy around you tells you with urgency to set and fulfil your intentions by January 1st.

Perhaps then the greatest challenge during these long summer days is for each of us individually to take the time to really reflect on what a valued and fulfilling life looks like to us, what fears and beliefs keep us stuck and repeating the same mistakes year after year, and to consider if we were to be living this somewhat Utopian ideal, then what small steps might we need to take to move toward that? Would it also be helpful to know that as humans we are always growing and learning, so unless you are planning to be a monk, perhaps enlightenment is what we can only strive for, perfection unattainable and humility a good place to begin.

So what is it that you would like to achieve, what has worked well for you before and has not worked so well and from this what have you learned? What environments and people may best support your goal and vision and have you considered breaking it down into small, palatable, realistic steps and letting go of the urgency to have it all sorted by 31 january!

So instead of  following FEAR, DARE  to be what it is you wish for and like  plants that flourish in appropriate climates place yourself in environments where you can flourish and fulfil your  intentions.

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