Hi Everyone,

Hope you had a great holiday time. Good to be here the other side of all that eating!! And also for me good to be the other side of New Year (picture from thegaurdian.com). It’s not an occasion I like (is it OK to say that out loud?). As well as the obligation to have a fabulous time, I find it a melancholic moment. Whilst time, in my mind, isn’t circular, the end of the year seems to encourage us to look back on what has been and look forward to what could be, as if it is. Invariably I feel sad about what’s ending and anxious about what may lie ahead. Not a good combo for a great night out!!

And I don’t think I am unusual in my sense of melancholy at times of change. Anatole France recognised it:

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy: for what we leave behind is part of ourselves: we must die to one life before we can enter another

Building on my last blog (15 12 15) by their nature New Year resolutions are often about beginnings, and so must also involve endings.

Understanding the endings element is an important part of the resource we need when we want to make changes in our life. Even if we are doing it the ‘one small thing every day’ way that I suggested last time, we are still moving away from something, giving something up in order to get to where we want to be.

Two weeks in to our resolutions we may be finding it hard. So here’s a top tip to help us keep at it. There is lots of evidence to suggest that people renege on their New Year resolutions not because they can’t stick to them in a practical sense, but because at a psychological level they are missing what they had before in a way that may not be immediately obvious: the smoker misses the camaraderie of his smoking chums; the dieter misses the joy of cooking delicious, rich meals; the student misses watching mindless TV without feeling guilty that they should be studying; the person having a ‘dry January’ misses the ritual of getting the bottle out of the fridge and hearing the ice crack as the wine pours over it (yes, I like my wine over ice!!) .

Understanding and dealing with these subliminal endings is an important part of succeeding.

William Bridges, in his book Managing Transitions, makes some very practical suggestions about how to manage the endings that we face when we are aiming to do something new. With a little tweaking they make a good guide to support us with the New Year Resolutions we have made:

  1. Have I considered my NY resolution carefully and identified (really identified!) what I will be losing and what is actually going to be different?
  2. Have I understood my emotional reaction to what I am losing, and been kind to myself about feeling that way?
  3. Have I found a way to compensate myself for that loss?
  4. Have I taken time to mark the ending of what went before and to celebrate the bits of it that were good?
  5. Am I really clear about why I want to make this change so that, even in the toughest times, I know it is worth it?

Answering these questions can help us understand what we are actually missing and manage it better: I’ve retained the ritual of reaching for a chilled bottle and hearing the ice crack, but for January it’s a posh glass full of expensive (treat) cordial and tonic water. So I can stay alcohol free, (and I’m clear why that’s a good thing), but I’ve still got the subliminal hit I crave.

Sometimes it can feel negative to focus on what we are moving away from rather than be excited about what we are aiming for. We see that in business all the time, where those that reflect backwards are seen as awkward, unhelpful and stuck in the past. But taking time to understand where we are coming from and how that impacts on where we are going is important and necessary if we are to succeed.

Because when we understand where we’ve been we give ourselves more choice about where we’re going and how we get there!

Thank you for reading this blog. I enjoy sharing Choose You thoughts with you and love having your feedback so do please drop me a line at jenny@insight-out.co.uk


p.s. A sad week with the deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Endings certainly do create melancholy.