This past New Year, I thought I had it all figured out. I bought a beautiful productivity planner and set aside some time to go through my calendar, identify specific goals (dreams with deadlines!), and meditate on my intentions. I listened to more inspirational podcasts than I care to admit, and I felt invincible.
You see, I’ve always been a resolutions kind of person. I love lists, self-improvement, and hardcore all-or-nothing goals. Some might call me a masochist, but I always felt invigorated and empowered while rising to meet these challenges. Or at least I did before I became a mom!
As we all know, the only thing we can count on after having kids is unpredictability. By mid-January, it seemed like the world was determined to show me how laughable my resolutions were. Get more sleep? Ha! My toddler decided that the start of 2018 was the perfect time for a major sleep regression. Take more time for myself? No way! My son stayed home sick from school every other day, it seemed. On and on, and just like that, my long list of resolutions was out the window.
And so I’m leaving my resolutions in 2017. I’m setting broader intentions focused less on restriction and more on rejuvenation. And to do that, I’m taking lessons from my Persian culture and embracing the beautiful renewal of springtime!
Here’s why New Year’s resolutions no longer work for me:
Resolutions are too rigid. Resolutions worked well for me when I didn’t have another human being to worry about. Now that I have a toddler, it’s impossible to count on anything going according to plan. I’ve found that setting specific resolutions feels too constricting for me, and it sets me up to fail. Who feels motivated to make major changes if they’re off track after only a couple days?
Winter is a tough time to stay motivated. When it’s cold outside and the days are short, it’s hard to stay inspired and disciplined.
Giving myself a bunch of restrictions is a lot less inspiring than setting broader intentions for happiness. When times are tough, I don’t feel happy following extra rules. What does make me happy is trying to add more brightness and reflection to my daily routine.
Now is the perfect time for a spring refresh!
Spring is a natural time to introduce changes into your life. As the world comes into bloom and days are longer, it’s easier to feel inspired, joyful, hopeful, and motivated.
For many cultures, including my own Persian culture, the first day of spring marks the start of the new calendar year. Falling on the vernal equinox (March 21), Nowruz/Naw-Ruz (the New Year, translating to “new day”) signifies rebirth for the entire world and sets in motion a beautiful rejuvenation ritual for all those who observe this holiday. Many Persians believe that whatever a person does on Nowruz sets the tone for the rest of the year, so they are determined to fill the day with as much light and love as possible. Isn’t that a lovely thought?
Here are some ways you can put the principles of Nowruz into practice and refresh your outlook on your life and goals!
- Take “spring cleaning” to the next level. Growing up, getting ready for Nowruz meant cleaning the house and getting rid of anything that no longer served its purpose. While a literal spring cleaning is always a good idea, this year, I’m going to let go of any obligations, attitudes, and attachments that no longer serve me. One way to help clear the emotional clutter is to keep a journal in which you reflect on what fills your cup and what you’re grateful for. It can really help clarify your priorities!
- Brighten your life. During Nowruz, Persian homes are filled with fresh flowers and everyone wears new clothes in happy colors. Why not try to bring fresh flowers into your home every week, or make use of those scented candles you were gifted over the holidays? Now is the time to start living brightly!
- Reconnect. One of the best parts of Nowruz is visiting loved ones and sharing gifts and treats. I love the idea of keeping in better touch with family, friends, and neighbors, and extending as much hospitality as I can. This year, I’m setting calendar reminders to call friends and family members I don’t speak to often enough, and aim to have friends over more regularly.
- Maintain optimism. Nowruz entails a lot of symbolic elements focused on releasing the bad and embracing the good. People are focused on joy and new beginnings and pray to let go of old difficulties and conflicts. This year, I’m going to work to keep this feeling of joyful optimism strong throughout the year. Why not keep a gratitude journal or create a vision board? Practices like these, even though they don’t take much time, can help us remember that just as winter isn’t eternal, neither are difficult times.