Well, we are halfway through January. Have you let go of your New Year’s Resolution yet?
I would like to propose that winter is not the time to create big changes. Winter is the time to be still, go slow, and prepare for change.
We like to think that as humans, we have mastered nature. We have electric light that allows us to work without the sun, heating so we can live in cold temperatures, and air conditioning to make hot temperatures more comfortable. Our mastery of our environment has made us believe that no matter what season we are in, we can just continue to plow forward.
New Year’s Day is a manmade start of the year. The year is a circle of seasons flowing from one into the other. Where does a circle start? If I picked a “start” of the year, it would be on one of the equinoxes. Probably the Spring Equinox, as the days are becoming longer and the earth is creating new growth. Personally, that is the time of the year when I feel energized and motivated to create change.
Research has shown that the way that people create change is also circular. The stages of change are:
Contemplation flows into Preparation which flows in to Action which becomes Maintenance. Often the cycle can include relapse followed by reentering the cycle of change.
I view Contemplation and Preparation as the “Winter” of the stages of change. Winter is a time for quiet, reflection, and planning. To try to leap into Action in January is working against our nature. I think this is a big part of why New Year resolutions are so hard to maintain.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t prepare for big change or even take steps towards that big change in winter. Resolutions can be good and they need to be realistic. Goals based on who you are, where you are at, and what stage of change you are in are much more likely to be successful.
If you are contemplating change, counseling can be a great place to start. Together we can identify where you are at, where you want to go and the best path for you to get from here to there. In the meantime, enjoy the contemplative nature of winter and enjoy the season of stillness.