New Year. It is usually a time that prompts us to ‘all change please’ – the perennial call that we’ve come to the end of a line. New haircut, new diet, new image, new hobby, new habit – these are just some of the things we list off to change about ourselves.
I’m not saying change, or having goals is a bad thing, quite the opposite, but we should reconsider the mentality behind this annual drive to edit ourselves.
Firstly, with New Year’s resolutions, we tend to set ourselves ridiculous targets and then feel even worse when we fall off the wagon later in the year. At worst, this can leave people in a spiral of self-recrimination and more damaging lifestyle than we had before. No one can become a French-speaking, violin playing, vegan-chef and marathon runner in a couple of weeks.
Secondly, focusing on things we want to change can lead us to be highly self-critical. Often we treat ourselves in a way we would never dream of treating someone we cared about. You wouldn’t criticise a friend for not having a six pack, or be disappointed in them for not being able to run a 10k.
What about if instead of trying to change everything about ourselves, we just decided to take better care of the person that we already are. This might necessitate some alterations to our lifestyle, but ones driven by a positive appreciation of what we are rather than a negative view of what we think is ‘wrong’ with us.
For most people, for example, getting a bit more exercise, or adopting healthier eating habits might be part of taking better care of themselves long-term. When we get regular exercise, we sleep better, we’re more positive and tend to have more energy – which in turn makes us more likely to achieve those other goals we’d like to shoot for.
For others, it might be cutting back on how much we’ve been relying on fast food during the Christmas rush. Cooking from scratch not only gives you the sense of achievement of having made something, but it also makes you much more attuned to your body, what it needs and what it doesn’t.
I certainly am hoping to get back into cooking more. In a world of computers, I love the feeling of making something with my hands and I have bundles more energy when I cook for myself. I also want to focus on developing my core and back muscles. Particularly working with older clients, I see first-hand the importance of strengthening your core when you’re young, to help support your posture as you age.
As we move into 2017, don’t think about all the things you need to change to make the ‘new’ you. Think instead about what’s great about the old you and the ways you can nurture that and take better care of the person you already are.