Shout out to all the “New-New’s” out there. “New year, new me!” statuses are here!
For many of us, the start of the year feels like a fresh opportunity. It’s a new start (or a second, or a third…) at our goals. All year long, we are steeped in a culture of novelty and improvement, but there is no spectacle quite like January 1st. After all, when better to begin a new habit than day 1 of 365?
Without a doubt, setting an intention is important for cultivating mindful progress. Having a direction and awareness of what needs to shift in our life is how we grow. I do have to say though, in thinking more about this classic phrase I have some thoughts and questions about this “new me” we promise one another.
First question, why are you in a rush to dump Old-You?
The mood in January feels like a whirlwind of energy ranging from gentle transformation and change to intense purging and performance. While the New Year’s mood has the potential to be an inspiring force towards growth, without intention it can easily become anxiety-provoking pressure.
There is an expectation to be better, do better, and provide impressive evidence and results of your effort. It’s not enough to say, “new year, new me.” Now you have to prove it and deliver New-New to the family and friends you announced your resolve to (via Instagram or Facebook, of course).
This is where the loving side-eye comes in. The frenzy at the beginning of the year can encourage an unhealthy hyper-performance and overexertion if not checked. Perhaps the most common examples are the determination to develop a physical practice or embrace different eating habits. These decisions alone (and others like them) are neither good nor bad. You have chosen to show up for yourself in new and different ways so that you can holistically improve your life—yay, you! Go ‘head, New-New.
The context of this, however, is within an oversaturation of messages almost screaming at us, “You need to change! Don’t you want to be [insert idealized version of self]? All of your friends are becoming faster, smarter, better looking, wealthier, etc. so you need to as well—and right now!” Something like that. So now you’re in the gym on January 2nd going from 12 months sedentary to 10 rounds of CrossFit. For many of us this sudden pivot does not feel good, and for many of us, this change will not last.
Without mindfulness, it is easy to rush ourselves to keep pace in a competition that literally does not exist. This can be counterproductive at best and traumatizing at worst for the mind, body, and spirit. You do not have to rush your process. You do not have to “prove” to anyone that you are dedicated, and you do not need the recognition of others for your growth to be valid. Trying to skip from point A to point D will only lead to burn out. Ultimately, you are sabotaging your intentions while trying to prove that you are honoring them!
Speaking of intentions… Excuse me, New-New, but just where is the Old-You going?
What are the motives behind your goals? What is honestly prompting you to cultivate a New-New vibe? This is important to consider, because in addition to impatience it is also easy to step outside of self-acceptance if we are trying to chase an ideal version of ourselves. Set goals that affirm both your present state of being and your capacity for limitless greatness. Your intentions should not make you love who you are any less! Reflect on if you are honoring your vision or someone else’s.
If you realize that you are trying to run from Old-You, that is a great thing. Awareness of such is important and allows you the opportunity to heal from wherever that belief stems from. What have you determined is “wrong” with Old-You? The fundamental truth is, there is no New-New and there is no Old-You. There is only You, as you are, in this exact moment. You are the same spirit from 10 years ago and the same spirit 10 years from now. So, you better find a way to make peace soon because this self-relationship is for life! What an absolute honor.
Newly Integrated You
Old-You is important because of all the wisdom and vision you carry from your experiences. Lessons learned from previous years provide critical information that serve your growth in the new year and all of those to come. Maybe instead of devaluing who we are, we can learn how to be more present with ourselves and accept who we find. Perhaps you can honor both Old-You and New-New as an infinite and whole Newly Integrated You.
As we collectively move into a new year, dedicate some time for honest self-exploration. You will find that clarity will only assist you in manifesting your dreams. To know where you are headed, you must know where you are moving from. I suggest finding an hour or two, some silence, some paper, and some nonjudgmental curiosity to see where specificity and authenticity may lead you.
Identify: What felt out of alignment with your values last year? What was your greatest obstacle?
As much as we dislike and avoid discomfort, it is crucial for our development. It is a signal that something is not working and needs our attention, which can be a powerful change agent. It can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint exactly what that “something” is, but you are worth your time to investigate. Reflect on what areas of your life you find yourself most uneasy. What triggered these feelings for you? What forces seemed to hinder you from embracing your fullest self?
Integrate: How did you navigate difficult times? What factors contributed to your joy that you would like to bring along with you in the new year?
Questions like these highlight the importance of honoring our present, past, and future selves. Make a list of your strengths and achievements (you definitely have some!) as well as the support systems that held you steady last year. Knowing what went well and works for you ensures that you have the coping skills and resources needed for the inevitable gift of growing pains in the upcoming year. Plus, an attitude of gratitude goes a long way.
Accept: What are the parts of yourself that could use some unconditional love? How can you honor both where you’ve been and where you are going?
Final check-up on those New Year’s goals. Are they rooted in self-love or loathing? Do they affirm your capacity for greatness? If you’re not quite ready to embrace all of you with open arms, enjoy the journey getting there. If you are aware of your stuck points, perhaps try to incorporate a gentle mantra to cancel out negative self-talk. Repeat until you believe it (remember, no rush). Find someone you trust to hold you accountable to an intention of love, and be specific about your needs and expectations so that the level up energy is real! You deserve your best year yet. I am rooting for you.
Happy New Year!
Radiant is a bi-annual print and digital health magazine dedicated to the discerning African woman and her journey to wellness through health, beauty and culture. Available at Barnes & Noble stores and other retailers (see stockists) and online. Ships worldwide. Subscribe to our newsletter and get a free digital copy of issue No.06.
Article reviewed and approved by Dr. Didi Emokpare
Content provided in partnership with Radiant Health Magazine