At precisely 2:20am this morning, I shot out of Sleep’s warm embrace and landed in the unwelcoming lap of Awake. The Surfer lay next to me, happily riding his dream waves. The room didn’t appear to be hiding any would-be assassins in its pre-dawn corners, but we were definitely not alone. I’d brought something back with me. A phantom creature had crawled into my ear and was whispering terrifying taunts –
It’s the beginning of a new year Nicole. What if your bucket of resolution-lists grows a leak and you end up achieving nothing you set out to? What if you don’t get a handle on this and the open window of opportunity becomes a closed handful of panes that slip from your fingers to lie shattered on the floor? What if you fail?
Me, dramatic? Never!
All of this mid-night anxiety got me thinking about the popular approach to a new year. And it seems to me that for many of us, the kick off to a new year is a lot like a first date.
As is the case with first dates and the promise of a new and epic relationship, we place so much pressure on ourselves to be the best possible version of ourselves we can be. And so we show up on the 1st of Jan, our first date, with all these promises to our darling New Year. While sipping on sparkling water (because #dryjanuary) and munching on a no-bun burger with bacon and avo (because #LCHF), we shyly describe ourselves to New Year.
We tell our new beau that we’ve recently (4 hours prior) begun a programme that will result in the loss of all excess body fat; that eating too much sugar was something we did with our ex (Last Year) and so is definitely not to be repeated with New Year; and that just that morning we’d glowed our way through 90 minutes of yoga and meditation. We tell New Year that these are just some of the practices that we’ll be bringing with us into the relationship along with our core values of unfaltering kindness, patience, generosity and unconditional love for all mankind.
And as we drift off to sleep that night with New Year beside us (yes, on the 1st date!), we smile happily with the assurance that this time, we have found ‘the one.’ That this Year will be different.
While what we’re actually hoping is that somewhere within the unchartered territories of the next 12 months, we will become different.
I’m not for a moment trying to delude anyone, least of all myself, into thinking that I don’t adore setting intentions and that I don’t love new beginnings almost as much as I love the pop of a champagne cork on New Year’s Eve. I’m simply toying with the idea of approaching this whole new year thing slightly differently.
Some time ago I set myself a life goal – to live a balanced life, fueled by enthusiasm, underpinned with kindness and brimming in adventure. Up until this point, I’ve broken those goals down into annual chunks and have often been disappointed when the Year in question didn’t live up to my expectations (of myself.) And I’m thinking that maybe looking at the short game may be a better way to go. Maybe instead of approaching the 1st of January as if it’s our first date with New Year, perhaps it’s a day that we celebrate life – no matter what it looked like over the previous 12 months, or what it could become during the next 364.
Instead of trying so hard to get each New Year to deliver so much, perhaps we could try just being the best we are able to be and doing what we can on each day of any year. And if we mess up, oh well, there’s tomorrow!