Ah yes, a blog post about the new year, published a mere four weeks after the fact. Great job, Claire, timely and topical as ever!
(In my defense, January has been a bit of a blur. I've had approximately two and a half hours' sleep since the start of 2024. And I've always been someone who likes time to mull over my thoughts before sharing them.)
So, back to the topic. I don't like New Years Resolutions.
And that's for a few reasons. Firstly, I think if there's something really important that needs to change in your life or mine, we don't need to wait for a particular date to do it. I quit caffeine for most of last year, but it wasn't something that started with the new year. I had a conversation with a friend, felt inspired to try cutting back and then cutting out my daily coffee intake, and went from there. No fuss or pressure, just a worthwhile change that was good for my health and mindset.
Secondly, I think the whole idea of shaking up your life and transforming yourself every January steers people away from contentment with what we already have. Which, if you think about it, is a real shame right after the festive season when we've hopefully just been reminded of all the good things and great people we do have in our lives already. The speed with which we ricochet from fun family gatherings and generous gift-giving to 'I need to change everything about myself' is a capitalist corporation's dream come true, but misses out on the opportunity to accept our imperfect selves and our half-complete achievements as being part of a human story that has plenty of good things going for it already.
Besides, the middle of winter is no time to be starting grand new projects. The cold days and long nights leave me wanting to hibernate, or at the very least climb into a blanket fort with a stack of books and a mug of hot chocolate. (Unfortunately, neither my employer nor my children endorse me disappearing under a duvet for three months of the year.)
I didn't much like winter until I stopped wishing away the chilly temperatures and grey skies, and instead started leaning in to that feeling of rest and putting down roots, of reflecting on the year past without being under pressure to reinvent myself and take on a thousand new projects.
So if I were going to choose a new year's resolution, it would be one that summarised that whole approach of making the most of the season I'm in right now. I'd say my resolution is to pay attention. To pay attention to what's new and interesting about this season. To celebrate rather than wish the time away.
There are so many things I now love and look forward to in January: spotting wood ear mushrooms in the forest (just look at that photo of some I found this week: they're so weird!), feeding the birds in the garden (and counting them up for the Big Garden Birdwatch), making a hot drink to enjoy while listening to one of the many storms outside, and picking out books to read that fit with a wintery atmosphere (might be time to re-read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe soon).
So that's my plan for 2024: to pay attention and not miss the opportunities for contentment that are right there already. It's a little more earnest and reflective than my usual blog posts, but I hope it reaches others who also feel the need to slow down and appreciate each season as it comes.