New Year, New Beginnings

Our intention creates our reality
— Wayne Dyer

New Years. A time to reflect on the past year and to set forth resolutions for the future.
There is something beautiful and inspiring when we think about a chance for new
beginnings. This is the time of year where we are inundated by commercials for weight
loss and fitness. You can’t walk into a store without being bombarded by the latest
workout gear, fitness trends, and the latest diet crazes. We are all set on making
improvements as we face a new year. What is it about the idea of a new beginning that
is so inspiring? We have a drive to start again, to set goals, and to believe that the
upcoming year can be better than the last. For many, the past year was full of
uncertainty and fear. We live in an ever-changing world where so much is inherently out
of our control. Yet, we can decide and choose to make changes. We do have the power
to set intention into the upcoming year. The idea of New Year’s resolutions is full of
hope. Despite what is out of our control, despite the pain, we see in the world and in our
lives, there is still potential. There is still hope that we can start again and make a
change. Perhaps that is why year after year we set out on this ritual even if we won’t
follow through. It is the idea of the fresh start and trying again which appeals to us. We
desire to improve our lives and ourselves. This is why we see the same themes year after
year in our resolutions. We commit to exercise more, lose weight and eat healthier. We
want to spend more time with family and friends, travel, or even pick up a new hobby.
We commit to these new healthier habits while cutting down on the less healthy ones
like drinking or smoking.

Central to each of these is a drive for self-improvement. Despite what we went through
over the past year, as we ring in the New Year we still set goals and look at making a
fresh start. We believe that we can make a difference and be a better version of
ourselves. We decide once again to focus on what really matters, reprioritize, and focus
once more on that wonderful fresh start. It is a time for reflection and for resolution.
As we ring in 2018, here are some ways that we can help ourselves as we set out with
these resolutions. Many have studied the process of change and perhaps that is the best
place to start, understanding that change is a process. As we all know from experience,
lasting change requires long-term effort and intention. We may be able to stick with a
fad diet for 30 days but to really impact our lifestyle and life choices we begin the
process of implementing that change into our lives over time. Change takes time.
Change takes intention. Change takes continual effort and the willingness to start over
many times.

William Miller, the developer of Motivational Interviewing, stated, “Ambivalence is
simultaneously wanting and not wanting something, or wanting both of two
incompatible things. It has been human nature since the dawn of time.” The
exploration of our ambivalence towards change is a critical part of the change process.
Many times resolutions fail simply because we are not ready for change. We have not fully discovered why we want to change and just as significantly, why we do not want to
change. There are reasons we hold on to those negative habits even though we know on
some level that they are not good for us. Why do we eat what is not good for us? Why is
it so hard to lose weight and change our lives? Why do we struggle so much to let go of
the people, places, and things that are not adding to or bringing fulfillment to our lives?
These are all important questions to examine when we are in the process of setting our
resolutions and intentions for the New Year. Perhaps we need to explore these within
ourselves or with a close friend. Perhaps it is time to seek out professional help to
uncover the roots of the patterns that keep us stuck. Whichever path we decide, it is an
important part of the change process. We need to consider these elements:

1. Our readiness for change
2. What the barriers to change are
3. The reality of setbacks

For all of us who have attempted to make a significant change, we know these to be
important realities. We need to be ready to change. We need to assess what barriers
there are to making that change and then we need to prepare for setbacks and accept
that they are just part of the process. There will be many ups and downs over the course
of the upcoming year. Who knows what curveballs life will throw at us. When we are hit
with the unknown or high stress, it is easy to revert back to our old habits. That is why
we have to be prepared for the missteps and the days that we get off track. However, if
we go in expecting this then we will also know the way back. We can find our way back
to our original goal and intent. Write about it, talk to a friend about it, and make it
known so that when you do have days where it is foggy and you feel a little lost you will
have a reminder and people who can support you in your journey.

Take advantage of the New Year. Set the goal and make the resolution. Be bold about
the intent you have for yourself for the next year. It is a wonderful and beautiful process
to allow the idea of a new beginning to give you hope and prospects. Just remember it is
a process and a journey. You will have setbacks. This is part of the change process. Ask
for help if needed and be kind to yourself along the way. Reflect on the journey and
lessons from 2017 and welcome 2018 with open arms and for what you will find and
discover about yourself along the way. T.S. Eliot said, “What we call the beginning is
often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start
from.” This is a perfect way to think about the end of one year and the beginning of
another. We can always start again. So here’s to a beautiful start for all of us. Happy
New Year!