I don’t do New Years’ Resolutions. Never have, probably never will. They’re almost doomed to fail; their die-hard nature, the miserable time of year, the fact that they often involve a period of restraint and not-very-fun following a period of parties and overeating and what is for many people the biggest night out of the year.
(My time of year for resolutions is usually September – something I’ve already written about, in case the title sounds familiar)
However, my second favourite time to start fresh is in the springtime. The days have just started getting longer, we’re seeing glimmers of sun, and there’s something to look forward to (summer) (and usually trips abroad). It also feels, symbolically, like a good time to start fresh, as it’s traditionally associated with “rebirth, rejuvenation, and renewal”.
I’ve frequently started exercising more in spring, or waking up earlier, or eating more healthily, and generally, it’s worked quite well. For various reasons, these things have ended up not being compatible with my lifestyle year-round, but it’s rarely felt like “failing” when I stopped pursuing these goals.
Here are my reasons and suggestions for why you should consider a springtime resolution this year:
1) They’re flexible
I mentioned the die-hard nature of New Years Resolutions earlier on. Let me explain. Resolutions usually go something like this: you start on the 1st of January, and continue rigidly until something, for some reason, makes you “break” your resolution. Perhaps you eat something you’d vowed not to, or forget to go to the gym one week. You then feel like you’ve ruined your “streak”, an decide to give up on that particular resolution. And so you try again next year. There’s even a name given to the date people typically “break”: Blue Monday. But with springtime resolutions, this isn’t an option. Springtime resolutions aren’t an “all or nothing” deal. They’re not something you have to do perfectly or not at all – this is about lifestyle choices that you want to gradually change over time. I mentioned this logic in my bullet journal post, but in my opinion the best way to incorporate new habits is to try to do them as much as you can, with as few “relapses” as possible, but allowing yourself the flexibility to fail now and then.
2) They don’t have a fixed starting date (tip: coordinate with spring cleaning)
Because springtime resolutions don’t have a fixed starting date, having a religious attitude to your resolutions isn’t really an option, which forces real change – gradual, and not necessarily perfect first-time-round.
Not everyone subscribes to the idea of “spring cleaning”. In fact, I don’t actually know anyone who really does, and I’ve never properly committed to it so far – but I’ve always wanted to. In fact, last spring was the first time I tried some version of spring cleaning. I absolutely love the idea of getting rid of all the crap you don’t need, and cleaning things that wouldn’t otherwise get cleaned at all.
(On that note, I highly recommend Marie Kondo’s book and method, and I’ve written a separate blog post on that)
This, for me, goes very neatly together with the idea of starting a new fitness regime, or a new diet plan, or picking up a new hobby, or kicking a bad habit. It’s about getting rid of the things you don’t want in your life, and replacing them with things you do. And the good news is, you can start anytime in spring. If you have a few urgent deadlines, and you’d like to start in May rather than March, THAT’S OK!
3) There’s no one judging you
Everyone always asks what your New Years Resolutions are, and they always expect you to fail (let’s be honest), but no one, with the exception of others who have read this blog post (and you won’t know who they are!) will be asking about your springtime resolutions – so you have a free pass to try things out!
You can even try something, decide it’s not working for you, and try something else instead, all before spring has ended! Or you can adjust your original resolution to be more realistic, or to suit your lifestyle more.
4) You’re less likely to be suffering from SAD
Seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as “winter depression” or “winter blues”, affects up to one in three people, and, whether mild or moderate, this will influence whether or not being extra hard on yourself or being extra ambitious is a good idea.
It’s better to wait until the end of the season to start something new – winter can be hard enough as it is! It’s also generally easier to be optimistic in spring, in my experience.
5) There are more chances to “reset”
I think of “resets” as “checkpoints” in a video game – if you were vegan for six months, for example, but then ate meat because it was Christmas or something, you’d feel like you’d accomplished something. If you then continued being vegan for another six months, you might even discount that one week and tick off “1 year of being vegan” in your mind. There are various times of year when it’s natural to “cheat” on your resolutions, or, as I like to say, to “reset”.
None of these are close to January. So when you start in January, there’s quite a big block of time where you’re expected to keep your resolution quite strictly. This is because January is essentially towards the beginning of the winter months, and there aren’t any natural “checkpoints” in spring, which means there’s a good 5-6 months of trying to keep your resolution before you feel like you’ve achieved something. If, however, you start in spring, and manage to keep going until your summer holiday, it somehow feels like more of a milestone. In fact, if you start in the spring, each season has a milestone: summer holidays, autumn resolutions, and Christmas – all spaced out by about 3 months. This feels more bitesize and manageable.
Let me know if you’ve ever tried springtime resolutions and whether or not they’ve worked for you!