Turning over to a new calendar or diary is a time full of excitement, dreams, anticipation and potential. For some reason, I am convinced that 2015 is going to be an extraordinary year. After a reflective and exploratory feel to 2014, many of my clients are now undertaking or completing home moves, relocations and career changes.
At the end of the second full week of January, I've been most excited by the number of clients who have come for appointments and talked with such positivity about the year. I've heard very little talk about ‘giving up’ habits. Instead attitudes are turning towards 'taking up' ... Returning to books which have inspired in the past, doing more of what has been enjoyed before, making and taking time for oneself, one's friends and family.
This resonates with me in a big way - I'm all about following one's passion. When I opened up at 77a Queen's Road in September, the first people I welcomed in were my parents & their dog. I must confess Lola was surprisingly well behaved lying in the corner whilst I gave my mother the first massage in the new venue! As a thank you, she gave me a sign I keep on my desk which says "Do what you love".
In order to follow my passion, last year I made some big changes which involved giving up some of my precious activities. But because they were framed around such a positive step, and to enable me to pursue my passion whole heartedly, the 'sacrifice' didn’t feel as bad. Not just acceptable but worth it. As much as I loved my personal training clients and enjoyed that work, massage was the passion I felt driven to pursue, and it was time for a change, to follow my dreams. So if you have something to ‘give up’, try reframing it in a positive way - you may be surprised how much this impacts your drive to embrace the change.
"New Year, New You"
One of the things that bugs me about a change of year, other than the focus on ‘giving up’ something is the persistent call of the phrase “New Year, New You”. When I was working in the fitness industry, the dramatic rise in gym attendees in September (with the promise of the Christmas party season and those little black dresses) was only overshadowed by the January rush. I get it, I really do, and getting fit, returning to clothes which have been a tad tight for a while is a wonderful goal, but it’s the ‘new you’ bit I have always objected to.
I used to joke that the vast majority of gym members on treadmills were either running away from something or running towards a goal … whether it be emotional, physical or mental. But it is surprisingly accurate. The people I found to be most successful in achieving their fitness or weight loss goals were those who WERE happy with themselves to start with, and just wanted to make improvements for themselves.
The problem I have with the new you is the concept that as you are isn’t good enough, isn’t right, that you are unhappy because of your size, shape, job, physical pain, whatever the ‘thing is’ you are wanting to hop on a treadmill and run away from. But actually, so much of what I saw helped me realise that the unhappiness people were feeling in themselves was in part contributing to the problem of their size, shape, job dissatisfaction, the intensity of the physical pain they were feeling, whatever it was that was pushing them onto that treadmill.
Life can be hard, but we are constantly bombarded with news and images which reinforce the negative, depressive and fear-inducing elements to the world we live in. I am not devaluing or ignoring the tragedy that occurs in the world, but I have found that by switching off the television news, by not watching 30 minutes of doom and gloom right before I go to bed, I sleep better and am happier in the morning. I still know most of what’s going on in the world, but I don’t feel the need to take on the opinion and speculation surrounding these events and issues. I get to make up my own mind. It’s not just me … in a wonderful TED Talk, Shawn Achor discusses The Happy Secret to Better Work, outlining the basics of Positive Psychology. Sounds a bit wishy washy or New Agey? Give it 13 minutes of your time, and then perhaps review what you are looking to achieve in 2015.
So may I wish you a very happy 2015. I hope you follow your dreams and achieve all you strive for - or at least enjoy the journey!