written by John Niland

I’ve always disliked New Year resolutions. Somehow, the darkest days of winter do not feel like the ideal time to be depriving oneself of life’s little pleasures, nor to be imposing yet more expectations on an overburdened self.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for self-improvement, excellence and the pursuit of life’s full potential. My problem with resolutions is not about the action, nor even the timing; it’s more about WHY are we doing it.

If you really want to eat less cake, run the London marathon or rise earlier in the morning, because you are eager to celebrate the person that you are, and make the most of life… I’m totally with you. On that basis, I will cheer you all the way to the plastic surgeon, if that’s what makes you happy. Anything done as an expression of self-worth gets my vote… well, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else.

However, the rationale behind New Year resolutions is often not so benign.  Scratch just a little below the surface, and all too often you find a winter of discontent with the self, or at the very least yet another condition of self-esteem that now has to be fulfilled.  No matter how good life is, the end of the rainbow is always over that next hill.

It’s not the resolution: it’s the WHY behind the resolution. Why is it so important to run that race, lose those kilos or get that new job?  Even before you achieve these things, can you be a friend to yourself, unconditionally?

If the answer is Yes, ironically you stand the best chance of success. You will be less derailed by setbacks or even the opinion of others. In the words of Kipling, you have deep roots:

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes, a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”


Wishing you a happy New Year: in full friendship with yourself, as you are, without conditions. 

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