It is that time of the year again where the very air is filled with celebration, good food, gatherings, and the inevitable resolutions. Every new year brings with it millions of promises by as many people to themselves and to others; millions of guarantees of positive change, action, discipline, success, and more. Every year, this time of the year, we see the pressure slowly build up to write the most inspiring resolutions for the year to come. What is the point behind it all?
My take on new year resolutions
I am not a big party person so new years are almost always ushered in quietly with a few wishes and some good food. Being a Hindu, I celebrate the start of the year again in March or April (we follow a lunar calendar so the date can vary by a few weeks at times). So, I technically get two chances to make and keep up with resolutions, once in January and once a couple of months later.
But I never make new year resolutions, and I have had different reasons for it over the years. For a while, I did not know that people followed a practice of making resolutions to begin the year. Once I got to know a few years into life, I refused to make any because I wanted to rebel and not do what everyone was doing. I simply refused to make resolutions of my own for that one reason and no other; I would not do it because people expected me to and everyone did it.
I then decided half-heartedly to make a couple of resolutions one year and almost right away forgot all about them. I think I just wanted to have an answer for when someone asked me what my resolutions were that year. There was no conviction and barely any thought behind whatever resolutions I made that one time. I have never had any resolutions until then or since but my reasons have changed.
I no longer avoid them out of rebellion but simply do not see them as a way to make myself do something. I do make resolutions and promises to myself for things; I simply choose to not wait for a particular day or time of the year to make them. I may make them once a year, once every few months, or once in many years. The frequency depends on what I have promised myself and how long it takes to get there.
I would call these resolutions Sankalpa – they are not simple affirmations, not exactly promises either. They are more a reality that I repeatedly tell myself I can and will create for myself. Of late, I have noticed my promises to myself changing from concrete tasks to more long-term life goals that are derived from my study of Yoga philosophy, among other things. Sankalpa is always positive, always what I want to do or make happen and never something I wish to avoid or do away with from life.
Resolutions have become Sankalpa, and these may sound like “I become more content every day”, “I am becoming more consistent”, “I am stronger every day”, “I can feel confident and safe”, and so on. They are life goals, things that I want to become a part of my life, part of me. I remind myself of these as often as I need to remind myself of what I want to work towards through my everyday thoughts, words, and actions.
New year – an opportunity
I now see every new year as an opportunity to remind myself of my Sankalpa. They may or may not change from one year to the next. I may have one or many, some carried over for years together because it is a lifelong journey. I keep them simple and broad – they are not tasks I wish to perform in a certain amount of time (lose/gain weight, earn X amount of money, exercise 4 times a week, etc.) but broader ideas that are the driving forces behind everyday tasks (finding joy, spending time with the self, building consistency, doing everything as well as personally possible, etc.).
I find that keeping these broader ideas in mind automatically brings into focus the everyday steps needed to work towards them. I use this time of the year to remind myself of all the good that has happened in the year that was, hopes for the year to come, and my learnings from all of it that I can take with me moving forward.
My wish is that we would take the pressure off of resolutions, that we make them because WE want to and not because someone believes we should. I wish resolutions become our inspiration and not a source of stress that makes us feel worse about ourselves. I wish we let go of guilt when we fail at something and see it as an opportunity to start afresh with the lessons learnt from past failures.
I choose to end this year with hope. I hold empathy for all those and all that was lost this year and hope that some of that grief and loss may become less painful. I hold silence for those who have faced trauma, abuse, and are struggling to live with the hope that they find within them or around them the courage to take a step forward to begin the journey of healing. I hope to find the fortitude within me to stand up for what I believe in, follow my inner voice, and hold on to my core values and beliefs. I hope to have the courage to remain kind and compassionate in a world often filled with hate and violence.
I choose to end the year with hope. Happy Holidays!