What if we slow down instead of speed up?

It’s that time of year again when we cozy up under soft blankets, reflect on 2022 and begin to dream into 2023.

Enter New Year’s Resolutions (and how I plan to doing them differently with a fun workshop below). 

80% of people who make New Year’s Resolutions have abandoned them by February (kinda makes you curious about that 20% doesn’t it?). This means most of us have stepped into the new year with the best intentions, only to slip back into familiar routines.

Resolutions don’t work because…

  1. Despite what every action movie says your willpower is finite.
  2. Your ego’s main job is to maintain the status quo and keep you alive so anything that challenges that status quo is gonna meet some heavy resistance.
  3. Your emotions override your rational brain all. the. time. Think of it like this, your emotions are an elephant and your rational brain is the rider sitting on top of the elephant. Sure they can pull the reins and tell the elephant where to go. But if that 1-ton animal decides to do a U-turn the rider really doesn’t have a hope – they’ve just got to hold on for dear life. So our riders (aka rational selves) have become EXPERTS at justifying and rationalizing the choices of our elephants. All to give ourselves the illusion of control.
  4. We’re really bad at realistically estimating how much time/energy we actually have so we end up taking on everything all at once with unrealistic timelines.  Then we end up overwhelmed and give up. All by February, apparently.

I also wonder if our resolutions aren’t successful because they’re built on outside expectations.

The most popular New Year’s Resolutions (according to Google) were…

  • Exercise more
  • Eat healthier
  • Lose weight
  • Get organized
  • Learn a new skill or hobby
  • Spend more time with friends/ family

The first 3 are all about trying to look a certain way. But I wonder if we’re doing these things so we’ll be healthy or because there are subtle (ok not so subtle) messages all around us that our bodies must fit into society’s narrow parameters in order to be “acceptable”.

Are we doing this because it’s what we’re “supposed” to do or because it’s genuinely what our hearts are calling us towards?

Are we getting organized so that our mother-in-law will stop making passive-aggressive comments about our chaos or because a tidy space will give us peace and staying on top of our schedule will create less last-minute stress?

Are we learning a new skill because we’re passionate about it or because we feel like we need to make every waking hour “productive” to be considered valuable humans?

How can we do this differently?

Listen, I’m a big fan of setting goals and transforming your life – I just don’t think resolutions are it.

In the second chapter of the yoga sutras, it says that when something isn’t working we should stop and ask ourselves what it would look like to do the opposite.

Now, I’m not saying we should all eat junk food and lay on the couch for the next year 😅. If your resolution is to lose 20 lbs by March the opposite doesn’t mean you need to gain 20 lbs by March. The opposite might be no restrictive diets. It might be choosing to be kind to your body. To listen when it’s hungry or tired or needs to dance and to honour those needs. The opposite might be standing naked in front of the mirror every day and saying one kind thing to yourself.

The opposite often looks like letting go, softening, acceptance, and going slowly.

The opposite says instead of piling more and more and more onto our exhausted, stressed shoulders what can we subtract in order to create space for what truly matters? Think of it as addition by subtraction.

And on days when you don’t follow through – give yourself grace to “fail” and get back up again.

Instead of “Harder Better Faster Stronger” recognizing that we don’t have to be productive 24/7. We need time to rest. Time to be playful. And more fun in our lives.

What if you slow down?

I mean really sloooooow down. Do less. Say “no” more often.

How does that feel viscerally in your body? Is there relief? Or resistance? Because that wall you keep hitting is there for a reason.

What would it look like to simplify? What does that mean for you?

If you get quiet. Maybe place a hand on your heart. Take 3 slow deep breaths. And then ask your heart what it wants … I wonder what it will whisper back to you?

I’m betting it’s not 6 AM HIIT classes 5x a week.

If we connect to our hearts and make choices from there I wonder if our list of resolutions might look vastly different. Or if we only chose resolutions that were aligned with our core values.

This time of dreaming into the future is all about possibilities. So I’m going to share one of my favourite tools – The Wheel Of Life or Possibilities (or whatever you want to call it).

wheel of life

Once you’ve rated each area of life you can ask how you could simplify or do less. Instead of areas of life, you could put your core values around the edge and ask how aligned you feel with each.

Or you could put emotions around the edge that you want to experience like ease, joy, contentment, fun, connection, peace, etc, and rate how often you feel those things.

Then pick 1 area that feels easy to shift and ask how you’re going to improve it. Maybe bringing work from a 2 to a 7 is a HUGE mountain to climb. But bringing family from an 8 to a 10 feels exciting and easy. Do that. Follow the energy.

Grab your copy of the wheel here.

p.s. Here’s what I’ve been reading, loving, and participating in lately that has shifted my views on the whole “Harder Better Faster Stronger” rhetoric.  

Radically Content by Jamie Varon

The Heart Centered Membership with Danielle LaPorte (affiliate link)

Artist Morning with Darius Bashar (free Friday morning community meditation)

Laziness Does Not Exist by Devon Price

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