#askingforme: New Year’s Fail


#askingforme is an advice column featuring Grace Sanders, a psychotherapist with over 25 years of experience helping people improve their “human-in-process” stuff. Find out more about Grace at www.gracesanders.com. Send questions for this advice column to: askingforme@noda.org (or use the anonymous form below).

Dear Grace,

Every year I make really good New Year’s resolutions, and every year I do a really good job of sticking to them. Until, like, right now. What am I doing wrong that I can’t stick to my resolutions past the middle of March? I start out strong but can never seem to keep my momentum going for more than 2 to 3 months.

Thanks,

New Year’s Fail

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Dear New Year’s Fail,

What is it about the New Year that sparks so much energy? The start of a new year and New Year’s resolutions are very ritualized “beginnings” in our culture. Beginnings are exciting, full of possibility and opportunity. Beginnings offer the chance to begin anew and focus on the freedom to imagine all things from a space of allowance and openness to do and be whatever you want.

The challenge, of course, is to remain in and sustain that space of openness, presence, and self-loving kindness. Especially, to stay in that place without abandoning ourselves when we feel that we have faltered from our initial visions of the change we hoped to be possible.

Therein lies the problem with New Year’s resolutions: the beginning is a fixed point in time (the start of the new year), so when we slip up or don’t stick to our resolution (which we almost always do), we interpret it as failure, and our new beginning is over (at least until the next new year), and we bathe in self-criticism and defeatism.

In reality, though, beginnings happen repeatedly. The starting place is where you’re at, regardless of the day or time or when you decided to make a change. The true opportunity in beginning is to trust in ourselves that we have the strength and the courage to become the very person we dream of becoming, even when we feel we have fallen off the path. Change takes time, and more importantly, it takes patience. Change requires us to begin again, and again, and again, and again…. Persistence and beginning again are the keys to change.

Beginnings are truly the opportunity to be in the present moment and to manage our own integrity by taking responsibility for our words, actions, and choices. Our beginnings happen at multiple points throughout the year and multiple times throughout our lives.

All that is to say that in the middle of March (or July or September or on January 3 or in 2025), you haven’t failed—you’ve just reached a new beginning point. The opportunity is to not stop and to continue to begin again.

Here’s to your many and inspired new beginnings this year!

With light and love,

Grace

************Update on the dog poop issue from last month: I received one anonymous submission from a non-picker-upper: This person did not pick up the poop because they thought the plastic bags were more environmentally damaging than the poop itself. But once they learned about the health hazards in dog poop they found some biodegradable bags and were reformed.

First, thank you, Anonymous-Reformed-Poop-Picker-Upper, for sharing. Your admission allows us to realize that just because someone is doing something, or not doing something, we don’t like or agree with, it doesn’t mean their intentions are motivated by ill will. In this case, you had bad information but good intentions.

So, perhaps a NoDa neighborhood informational campaign about the hazards of dog poop is one way to help with this issue? After all, information is power.