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Ask Izzy: The case against New Year's resolutions

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Ask Izzy: The case against New Year's resolutions

Ask Izzy is an advice column about relationships, mental health, and sexuality. Written by Isabel Mata — a Seattle-based lifestyle writer, podcast host, and mental health advocate — Ask Izzy offers tangible expert advice so all readers can have stronger relationships, better sex, and healthier mindsets. Submit your question today by filling out this survey

While everyone on my social feed was out in sparkly dresses, sipping champagne, and probably spending too much money this past New Year's, I was cozily nestled on the couch with my cats as the rain patted my windows. As I looked outside, everything was asleep. The trees, birds, even the worms that speckle the sidewalks seemed still in hibernation.

I said to my husband that I didn't feel like setting resolutions this year. At least not now.

This came from realizing that the tradition of New Year's resolutions tethered to the Gregorian calendar is incredibly disconnected from the natural rhythms of the earth's seasons. This misalignment poses an intriguing question about the suitability of this date for setting personal aspirations, especially considering the deep winter phase prevalent in many regions at this time.

This got me thinking: Why is there so much pressure this time of year to make big changes? What if instead there was a better time that made more sense?

One such instance is Lunar New Year, typically observed in February. Celebrated in various cultures, it marks a time of renewal, accompanied by vibrant festivities and symbolic traditions. This event often aligns with the arrival of spring in many parts of the world, symbolizing rejuvenation and new beginnings in harmony with nature's rhythms. The association with spring's onset aligns more seamlessly with the impulse for growth and change, making it a potentially more suitable juncture for setting resolutions.

Another significant temporal moment is the astrological new year, which transpires in March. This celestial event, heralded by the arrival of the vernal equinox, marks the beginning of the astrological calendar in many belief systems. The commencement of the zodiac cycle can be a time for fresh starts and new endeavors. Its alignment with the rebirth of nature during the onset of spring amplifies the symbolism of new possibilities and
growth, offering a promising framework for initiating personal resolutions.

Considering these alternative milestones invites contemplation of the potential advantages of setting resolutions at times more harmoniously attuned to natural cycles. Aligning resolutions with these points on the calendar could tap into the collective energy of rejuvenation and renewal that accompanies the changing seasons.

If you find yourself contemplating your growth and future this time of year, be gentle with yourself, as nature shows that now is not the time to begin fresh cycles. Instead, pour yourself into art, creativity, and self-exploration, within yourself and the home. Use this time to look back on the past calendar year and pull out moments of pride, growth, and gratitude.

If the pressure to set goals leads you to fall into a comparing mindset, remind yourself of the seasonality of it all. Take a walk outside, noticing the deep slumber around you. We are not separate from nature; we are a crucial part of it. The time will come to contemplate personal growth and desired changes — just not at this moment.