How long will your New Year’s resolution last?

Now that all the Christmas festivities are over we hear the common phrase; “What new year
resolutions will you be making?” and we tend to roll out the same old thing, eat less, exercise more, read more, facebook less, but in reality we know by the middle of January we will be making the same calls to the chinese while sitting staring at facebook when we should be at the gym.
So why does this happen, why do we get so disillusioned so quickly?
Personally I think we expect too much too quickly.  Living in this fast paced world we expect instant results and when we don’t see them we give up.  I know I am guilty of this at times.  This is where I like to look to Pagan beliefs and apply them to the concept of new year’s resolutions.

Many Pagans follow the cycle of the seasons as part of their spirituality, and with this comes the concept of there being a time for everything.  This can easily be connected to these promises we make to ourselves.

If we cast back thousands of years to a time when our lives were governed more by the growing season we can see where the concept of a yearly new start may have begun.
The time of new beginnings starts with the darkest time of the year; the longest night or Winter Solstice on or around December 21st. Metaphorically this can be seen as an end, the darkest time for the soul where only faith says that the light will return.  As the dawn breaks on the morning after the long night we are reborn into a new year.  At this time slates are wiped clean and we start afresh.  This is the time to make plans for the coming year.
However, anyone who has tried to grow anything in the depths of winter will know, now is not the time to be sowing seeds.
In the winter farmers are looking to prepare the land.  They may be growing a green manure crop; plants that will simply be ploughed back into the land to fertilise it, or they may be ploughing and leaving the ground bare for the frosts to turn large hard lumps into a fine tilth.
It is not until the earth starts to warm weeks later that seeds are even sown.  The surface of the soil is turned over and the seeds are lost into the darkness; only faith and experience tell that they will grow.  From there there is much waiting before the tiny signs of growth appear around March when we reach the equinox.  These are still only the smallest of frail shoots that could be knocked back or killed by a late frost.  Gentle nurturing, fair weather and the winter’s preparation all add to the chances of the seeds growing into strong plants.  
Once there are signs of growth watering and weeding is needed to ensure that by the time we get to midsummer the plants are strong and vital.   However, it is not until after the summer solstice in June that finally the fruits of all this work can be harvested.
Looking at this as a metaphor we can see why New Year’s resolutions so easily fail.  Where is the preparation and the patience?  The nurturing and care?
So when New Year arrives in the next few days, think about how you can make your new plans more sustainable.  Rather than signing up for the gym now how about starting with going for a walk and work your way up to being able to make good use of gym membership.  Rather than going on a crash diet that you can’t maintain; start looking at where gentle changes can be made that will add up to better lifestyle choices.  If you want to learn a new craft spend the start of the year learning about what you plan to do, which equipment is best and who is the best teacher.
Now is a time to prepare the ground, seeds sown now may never grow.  Give yourself the best chance.

Happy new year everyone!


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