Resolutions, rituals & routine - a personal reflection

It’s less than a month to go until the start of the new year; a time to start afresh with resolutions, promises to give up bad habits, be better, work harder, change & grow.

I’ve never been good at sticking to resolutions; there’s something about the negativity of ‘giving up’ something which never really resonated with me. In 2018 I decided to instead set myself goals. I figured that having a more positive, growth-focussed outlook would serve me better. And it did…depending on how you measure those goals! I was clear with some of them and a little vaguer with others: learn to handstand (fail), learn piano (not a fail….but not a clear tick either…I play from time to time and have learned some chords), run a retreat (tick). Not too bad…could do better.

As December rolled around this year & I started looking ahead to 2019 I realised that I was feeling a lot less motivated to make resolutions or goals for the new year….a little directionless maybe? Or maybe I’m quite happy with things just how they are right now? This could indeed be a product of my yoga & mindfulness journey; a reduction in the need to constantly look forward, to grow & develop, but instead an acceptance of the present, living with Santosha (meaning contentment, and which I have tatooed on my wrist as a reminder!).

Instead of resolutions, what popped into my mind were the ideas of rituals & routine. As a freelancer & yoga teacher I struggle with routine from week to week; no two weeks look the same and it can be quite demotivating for an organised ETSJ like myself. I realised that I need to create a more structured environment, or platform, from which to live my ‘unstructured’ life and started examining my daily habits, routines & rituals.

I like to think of rituals as habits which we perform mindfully (rather than unmindfully, like brushing our teeth, showering etc). By bringing minfulness into certain actions which we perform daily, we are becoming more present, rather than living life on auto-pilot. They also create a sense of grounding & balance in an otherwise chaotic world; by bringing daily rituals into your life, you can rely on these for a sense of stability & structure which might otherwise be lost in the sea of to-do-list chaos & outside pressure to perform work, home or family duties. Finally, they allow us to cultivate time for ourselves; when these activities become dedicated time for us, and only us, they serve as simple forms of self-care.

So I decided to start 2019 with some daily rituals which would serve my work, my mental health & my journey of self-awareness, mindfulness & meditation.

Once I had decided on my rituals, I wrote them down & vowed to get started in 2019….until it hit me. Why on earth would I wait a month to get started on small daily habits, instead of just starting them now? Why do we always put something off until it seems like the ‘right time’ to start? Why not start now?

I had absolutely no reason not to start immediately, and so this is what I have done. Every morning I am waking slightly earlier (using the Sleep Cycle App to avoid the need to snooze!), to give myself time to meditate for 15 minutes, followed by pulling a tarot card from my deck & taking a reading, followed by a quick journalling session while drinking my coffee.

Having been performing these rituals every day for a few days now this is what I have realised: December is a time for slowing down, people’s work starts to get quieter, maybe they go on holiday, it’s darker, colder & the energy is more reflective. While there still might be festive madness & holiday parties galore, generally speaking we have more time to think. So for me, December has been the perfect time to reflect on what I need in my life & take the time to implement it, before the madness of the new year starts; along with the bizarre need to change something about ourselves, vows that this year will be the ‘best yet’ & growing guilt over how much we ‘let ourselves go’ over the holidays.

I know that with these rituals already in place now, I can continue them throughout the festive season & have them fully established in my routine by the time the new year rolls around; allowing me to stay grounded, balanced & focussed for whatever the new year holds.

What changes have you been putting off in your life ‘until the new year’? Can you start now instead, so by January they’re already a habit?

Food for thought my friends….

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