New Year’s is a big deal. It comes smack in the middle of Christmas (which for me goes through Epiphany, January 6), and it’s maybe the only holiday that lasts a month. You can say “Happy New Year” on January 31 and still be okay. I think of January, its first days and weeks in particular, as setting the stage for the year ahead. I like that it happens in winter, when turning inward is the most natural thing on earth. And I like having a month’s worth of freshly minted days to clear clutter, organize and regroup, spiff and polish, and practice the habits that make each year close on a higher note than the one before.
The relevant word there is “practice.” The old concept of resolutions was promises made on January 1st and betrayed shortly thereafter, usually promises of vast transformation: couch potato to athlete, or shabby chic devotee to pared-down minimalist. That’s not how I see them now. My opportunity in January, and every day really, is to practice some aspect of living to which I aspire. If it feels right, I get to practice some more.
This year, I’m thinking of removing the obstacles to greater growth and fulfillment in a variety of areas. Among them:
Unload the email overload…I took five days off email just before Christmas, and it felt like a cruise on the Queen Mary 2. Using the Freedom.to program, I took a vacation from my inbox, and that taught me that I can do it every day: shut off the influx of mail at some point in the afternoon when I’ve done all I can handle. The stress relief is enormous. I used to feel as if I was always running from an avalanche, and now I can stop the avalanche in its tracks and revisit it in the morning when I’m refreshed and ready for it. I let emails come in for a few hours and when I’ve had enough – well, that’s enough. I look forward to keeping this up through a far less stressed 2024.
Commit to personalized wellbeing…It’s no secret that I’m “into health.” While vegan for the animals, I’ve been intrigued since childhood by actions people can take to improve their health. I’m drawn to the self-reliance of it: without a prescription or regimen from some expert, I can be an expert on myself, with some trial and error as part of the package.
This year, I want to focus on personalized wellbeing. It’s one thing to blindly follow the edicts of experts I admire, quite another to learn what they’re saying and apply those parts that resonate. As a longtime yoga student, I am an ardent adherent of the principles of ahimsa ayurveda––a ghee-free and vegan practice of this largely lacto-vegetarian tradition. Although I keep up with the science around plant-based nutrition and use that in my work and in my food shopping, I’m someone with a decidedly mystical nature. I not only accept that about myself, I love that about myself and about my life.
Value delight…Like a lot of people who care about a cause, who take the world situation to heart, and sometimes ask Atlas to move over so I can take a turn shouldering it all, I can dismiss such intangibles as beauty, fun, warmth, connection, and delight. My intention going forward is to dismiss them less and seek them out more. Tonight, for example, I watched a perfect movie, The Graduate – half-a-century old and, well, delightful. The lights are plugged in on the tree and the manger scene and the bedecked buffet, even though my husband is in bed with the flu, the dog probably doesn’t care, and some of my neighbors have taken their decorations down already.
In the interest of keeping it simple, three resolutions are plenty: one for work, one for health, one for life. And whatever you resolve––or if you’re resolved not to resolve––may you and those your love have a richly textured year ahead with good work, good health, and a really good life.
Victoria Moran, MVLCE, CHHC, AADP, RYT-200, is an author, animal advocate, and spiritual adventurer living in New York City. Her 14th book, Age Like a Yogi: A Heavenly Path to a Dazzling Third Act, is due at the publisher this Saturday (which is why this post was revised and recycled). When the book is done, Victoria will start on fundraising for the feature film, Miss Liberty, about a cow who escapes from a slaughterhouse, written by her husband, William Melton, and herself. Victoria also directs Main Street Vegan Academy and is a co-director of the Compassion Consortium.