The new year seems like an opportune time to pause, reflect, and make the necessary changes to optimize our lives.
But I’ve come to believe that January is overrated. There’s never really an easy time to modify habits, adjust expectations, or even end relationships. That’s because change is fucking hard, no matter the month.
So why is everybody trying to reboot their lives, right now?
Well, some say this is tradition and culture. The international calendar is the Gregorian calendar, and a majority of us are oriented around a timeline that also coincides with religious and secular holidays that influence us—directly or indirectly. Even if you don’t recognize a holiday season in December, you are exposed to it through group behaviors and marketing.
Others believe it’s nature. We begin again in January because of some primitive drive that has to do with energy, primal instincts, and the lack of sunshine. December is the womb. The solstice is rebirth. January is the time when we emerge back into the world to figure things out—or some shit like that. Clearly, I don’t believe that.
If you’re ready to begin again, do it. Honor that feeling. But don’t get caught up in the new year hype.
There’s so much pressure in January to change our lives. From my brainstorming sessions, I’ve covered the following topics with clients: lose weight, start running, stop drinking, get a new job, get promoted, retire, spend less, save more, write a book, launch a business, find investors, develop a hobby, ditch toxic friends, set better boundaries with parents, get more sleep, meditate, journal, finally start dating, get married, have a baby, get a new dog, move to a new city, move home, leave a relationship.
It’s been an honor to hear people’s stories and help them think through their lives a little differently. I’m a big advocate of slowing down, questioning our assumptions, and asking—is this true? Do you need to join a gym and lose weight because it’s January, and you’re sick of being overweight? Is it time to leave your job because you’re sick of your boss? Are you sure it’s time to leave a relationship?
Maybe it’s time, or maybe there’s another way to think about your “problems.”
I think that, sometimes, we overlook the fact that there are 11 more months in the year. We don’t have to do it all in January. In fact, going slow and creating a thoughtful plan can help us go faster when we’re finally ready to change.
And maybe, just maybe, we have it wrong.
Our first instinct is our worst instinct. In that way, the push to transform our lives in January might be incorrect. Even if we’ve ruminated on something for ages, I’ve found that our first impulse to fix something is often the opposite of what we should do. So, slowing down and talking to someone might save us heartache and the need to create another set of resolutions in January 2021.
So, what I’m asking you to do is embrace the desire to change, but temper it with wisdom. Slow down, question your impulses, and consider talking to an expert about creating a plan for the entire year. Don’t put so much pressure on the poor old month of January. It’s possible to tackle your problems and reconstruct your life—but if it were easy, you would’ve done it already.