January 1, 2024
The Pros and Cons of New Years Resolutions
This journal shares a transcript of the conversation between Hollis and Kimmy as they discuss how we can approach intention setting in the new year with a sense of excitement, exuberance and clarity without compromising our well-being.

This journal shares a transcript of the conversation between Hollis and Kimmy as they discuss how we can approach intention setting in the new year with a sense of excitement, exuberance and clarity without compromising our well-being.

Listen to their conversation.

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Hollis: Hi, Kimmy!

Kimmy: Hi! Hello!

Hollis: How are you today?

Kimmy: Good. Last night we had a huge rain here, and I feel like I woke up to a little bit of chaos, but I'm feeling better. All of my, well not all, but a good chunk of my books got soaked. So, I need to dry everything out and try to preserve my books. So, I have a project going on in my room.

Hollis: I feel like that's a really good mini example of how chaotic this time of year tends to be, where things out of nowhere come to you and you're like, now I have to handle this chaos.

I always think of this time of year as like the most reflective and introverted, and the time of year where you kind of want to just settle and hibernate. But then there is just so much going on, as we talked about in our previous episode about the holidays. But I think just in general there's this heightened activity of wanting to get everything done before the end of the year and then preparing for the next year. And just like so much to organize, so much to do, so much to reflect on. And also, so many things to just tidy and keep clean and make sure doesn't get damaged.

Kimmy: Exactly. And I feel like reflection is sort of bottom of my list. I'm definitely cognizant that it is a time for reflection and there's conversation about reflection and that we are like setting intentions, talking about the new year, what you really want for yourself, you're maybe like gathering with friends or family around this time and reflecting upon the year, but December is always crazy and I never feel like I can catch up.  

So there's this thing in the back of my head that knows that some genuine reflection, dropping into myself and asking myself what I need to offset that pressure and anxiety that comes with this time of year--  I can feel I can feel that I need that. But that is at the bottom of my priority list when there's all of this stuff going on and fluttering around. You're like I need to get this done, I need to get this done, and then at the end of it, it's just like I feel like I have no energy to reflect.  

Hollis: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I think that time markers are really important because they help us track the passing of time and they're like check in points, right? But at the same time. When we place too much emphasis on certain time trackers as like oh, now we have to stop and reflect and look back on the last year. It limits us from the natural, potentially more organic times when it would feel really good to reflect or set intentions and New Year's in particular, or like the days around New Years or the end of the year in general. Have this extra emphasis on needing to take stock of the entire last year, all 12 months, you know? And then set intentions for the following 12 months, which is a big project in itself. On top of all the other chaos. So I like to always remind myself that even if I set intentions, or even if I do the reflection (because I'm the kind of person that absolutely loves to do the reflecting) I think it's really important. You know, I live by the saying that the unexamined life is not worth living. So being able to sit down and reflect and kind of align myself with where I am now, I really, really value and find very important.  

So, even if I don't do it until well into January or you know, the beginning of February, I try to take the pressure off because nobody is putting that timestamp on when you need to reflect or set intentions or start the year, or whatever, other than yourself. You know?

We can follow the Gregorian calendar and we can follow an astrological calendar or whatever calendar you happen to follow, but it's up to you to choose when something ends and when something begins. And when you want to include any sort of activities that come along with that beginning and ending, like reflecting or setting intentions or, you know, gearing up for the next beginning. It does not have to be on top of all the chaos. In fact, if there is too much going on, it probably means that it's not the time for you to be reflecting.

Kimmy: Right. Or even just having a gentle form of reflection, like having it come a little bit more naturally. A lot of the pressure in setting intentions, setting goals for the New Year is having too high standards and it being all or nothing. It being like, I need to do all of this...upon reflection, these are all of the things that I want to change and let's just change it immediately.  

I actually had a moment like that this morning, that was just kind of unrealistic and I had to check in with myself just to actually take stock of what I needed. You know, you have to humble yourself a little bit. You are but one person.  

Hollis: Right.

Kimmy: It's not going to be peaches and cream or meeting the perfect goal all the time.

Hollis: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yeah. You know, when I think about this time of year, it's a really unique time on an astrological, astronomical level because the holiday season is in the midst of Sagittarius season, when the sun is in Sagittarius and then it moves into Capricorn and that's December and Sagittarius is a very kind of extravagant type of energy and definitely an ambitious energy. It's kind of like I see the thing that I want. I'm just going to go for it. I'm not even going to think about what it is that I need along the way. I'm just going to go, and so there's a lot of that kind of like, I just want it all and I want to do all the things and I want to just be everywhere all at once.  

And then when we move into Capricorn, it's definitely more refined and reserved. But it's also extremely ambitious and it's the type of energy that sets really kind of long term long range goals and plans that it wants to achieve as a form of leaving a legacy. So combined, this month is very much about seeing the big thing, wanting to get yourself to the big thing. And setting goals and intentions and expecting yourself to meet them, but at the same time, you know, we're entering into winter. We're entering into the darkest days (at least in the northern hemisphere) and longest nights of the year.  

And so there is also this natural urge to slow down and to get quiet and to get reflective and to kind of reset, you know, the winter solstice is the time of year that's kind of like a new moon, but for the sun and it's the very beginning of the process of gaining more light and the sun starting to make its way back into taking up more of our time during the day instead of the night and the moon, so there is this kind of confluence, this kind of combining together of impulsive, exciting, extravagant, expansive, ambitious, goal setting energy combined with wanting to reflect and rest and restore and start anew. And it can be really confusing.  

It can be really contradictory and can feel a little bit destabilizing when there is a part of you that's really excited and wants to create this kind of ideal life for yourself or these ideal habits or, you know, create these big projects or whatever it happens to be. But also, you know, our body very much wants to rest and restore and recuperate and kind of marrying those two things is tricky mentally. But it's part of, not just part of this time of year, it's part of any time of your life where there's something contradictory between your mind and your body. How do you find a way to marry the two and find grace in the process? And forgive yourself for not necessarily, having all of the energy that your mind wishes you had, or all the relaxation that your body perhaps wishes your mind had .

Kimmy: Yeah, having that in mind, it can actually be a nice outline for how to approach a goal, you know? Like if you're someone who sets goals or intentions, having in mind what is going on as you said, with Capricorn and Sagittarius and those sort of conflicting energies, they can actually marry nicely. One can sort of support the other if we if we acknowledge, like, OK, I may actually just need to rest here and go a little slower here. But, it does, when describing them, feel like there is no way these could go together, you know?

Hollis: Yeah. No, I definitely think that the energy of wanting to rest and reflect and then also the energy of goal setting or setting intentions for the new year, I think that they absolutely can go hand in hand because it's natural. It's the natural cycle of rest and rejuvenation and action and then rest and then action. But I think that we can very easily confuse our energy in this world, because we are being asked to do so much all the time, and the question of when to rest and when to be active is, I think a question that a lot of people struggle with on a pretty regular basis because we all have different relationships to rest. And also different relationships to the feeling of stress and needing to be doing things all the time. So I think a lot of times it can feel conflicting.  

In an ideal sense, we would recognize that when we have the urge to rest or when our body is saying rest, we rest. And when we have the urge and the energy to set intentions or to plant seeds for goals, then we do it then. But I think that a lot of times we're not quite as in touch or in sync with those energies as they're moving through us, so we end up just getting frustrated when we feel tired. When we went, when we would rather be, you know, waking up and. Going for a run. So I think you know, there's also a lot to be said too about people's relationship to New Year's resolutions, which I think is very valid for the very reasons that we're describing.

The end of the year is chaotic and setting goals can be a lot of pressure and it can feel like we're not doing enough or we're saying to ourselves that we're not doing enough, but I think there's another approach. If you allow yourself to give in to the rest and reflection that your body is likely asking for right now and slowing down, giving yourself like a little more time and space and kindness, even in the midst of all the chaos, then the excitement for setting intentions and the ambition for setting goals will come a little more naturally and organically, and can be done with a clearer frame of mind. Instead of feeling like, oh, I have to just do all this stuff. You know?

Kimmy: I have kind of a hard time setting intentions sometimes because either I'm super clear and I feel that pressure that we were talking about or I leave it really open and broad and it kind of fizzles away. Because I don't give myself enough clarity. Do you have any suggestions or insight on how to set intentions from a grounded place? Like how clear you want to get with yourself on that intention or that goal, and how to also allow for it to grow and evolve and be a little bit less strict or stuck.

Hollis: Yeah, completely. So the first thing I would say is that you can't know where you're going until you know where you've gone. And so I think that in order to set any kind of intention or to understand where you want to go forward in any capacity, whether it's, you know, in a week, in a month, in a, in a year or five years, 10 years, you have to really understand everything that you've just experienced as well and being able to look backwards and reflect on the journey that you've gone through. I think this will naturally inform what it is that you most want for yourself.  

You know, if you look back on this last year and just think of, you know, the three highlights and the three lowest points or the points that you're like, oh, I really don't want to do that again. I think that in itself can set up some really clear ideas of where you want to go next. And they can be so, so, so simple. And I think that from there, focusing on a feeling that you want to cultivate for the next year rather than a sort of concrete outcome would be the next real step.  

If you're hoping to cultivate more ease or flow or vitality, or you know, just generally waking up and feeling good, then what does that mean? You know, what does that look like? Does that mean waking up and meditating every day? Or does it mean waking up and meditating once a week? And when you're focusing on the feeling rather than the actual action you're tapping into the quality of life that you want to cultivate, and then the solutions to creating that quality of life come more naturally. And they also come with more motivation because you're thinking about the experience you want to have rather than a task you want to check off your list. Does that make sense?

Kimmy: Definitely. And I think that there is so much good to be said about having an intention. It's like, you know, for anyone who practices yoga, you might start a yoga class and the teacher will say to maybe set an intention for your practice or set an intention for your day. Or maybe you do that when you go on a run or go work out or even just start your day and hold on to that intention, that quality. If it’s ease or acting with kindness, just like having that as a reminder, can intend your actions throughout the day to carry a little bit more of that quality, which makes goal setting or acting towards a goal more rooted in that intention. And working with the experience of something and having that in mind has always been a little bit more approachable for me, but it can also feel elusive.

Hollis: I understand. Yeah, I understand what you mean. I'm the type of person that gets very specific and I forget that that other people don't because my process is always, you know, set a goal, break it down into the most bite sized, practical, tangible steps. So if you're setting a goal to move more or something, the next question I would say would be well, what does that mean? You know what does that look like? And I think the what does that mean and what does that look like can be flexible and it doesn't have to always be the exact same thing, and I think that's where, you know, a lot of the things we talked about talked about in the episode, how to quit quitting really can come into play where you can get really playful and curious while you're on the journey of doing the thing.  

It doesn't always have to look exactly the same way, but the quality of feeling the experience is the thing that you always want to stay tethered to. And what I love about what you were saying about intentions set at the beginning of a yoga practice or before you go into a meeting or, you know, do other types of movement or whatever, is that it's usually not something that's totally concrete. It could be something like breathe, you know? Or it could be acting with kindness or compassion. But it's not like, say, this thing or do this thing. It's usually something that is supportive to the overall experience that you're trying to cultivate for yourself, and I think that that's where New Year's resolutions have sort of gone off the rails a little bit for a lot of us. It feels like it becomes just another to do list or task list that we're creating for ourselves for the entire year and that just feels like, well what is the point of that? If I'm just giving myself more things to do, I would rather be focusing on again the quality of life that I'm trying to cultivate.  

So the next thing that I would ask is like, OK, you definitely focus on the quality of life and the experience. And then if it feels too fuzzy or if it feels too broad, then start to think about some examples of how that could look and what feels the best for you to follow first. Not necessarily tomorrow or the next day, but what feels good to do first, and then how can you also leave space for it to evolve and not have to be trapped into one definition of what it looks like.

Kimmy: Right, I think I have a couple of ways to kind of keep it alive, but do you have any suggestions for that? How to make it feel really alive and feel exciting and supportive and loving for yourself, not just for this specific time of year, but keeping up with resolutions, intentions, goals in general.

Hollis: Well, I think if you're setting a goal that doesn't feel exciting and alive, then you shouldn't be setting that goal first and foremost. If you're saying I need to be doing more of this and there isn't a part of the thing that feels really enlivening for you, then perhaps examine why you're setting down that goal, or that resolution, or that intention in the first place because that's what we're going for here. Creating a life and a future that feels really aligned and connected to who you are. And that really lights you up. And if you're setting down goals, tasks, or intentions or anything and you're like, oh, this just feels heavy then look at if you're setting that down because it's something that you feel like you have to be doing based on somebody else's standards, feelings of comparison, or feelings of jealousy. Really explore, is this actually something that you really, really want? And you'll know if it's something that you want because you will feel lit up in some capacity.  

Now that said, you set down intentions and goals that feel really exciting and feel like they have energy behind them because they feel really connected to who you are and they really feel like they're motivating you to move forward. But then at some point, you want to make sure that you stick to them and that you stay connected to them. You know, there's a few things I want to say about that specifically. If you're setting intentions and resolutions that really align with. Staying connected to who you are, supporting yourself, cultivating more kindness and compassion for yourself and cultivating a life that really feels good to you, or that that is aligned with who you are, it's not always going to be easy to do the things that create that kind of life. I'm thinking about how I had this yoga teacher years ago and he said, ‘go to yoga when you want to and go to yoga when you don't want to’, like, go all the time because it's a practice of checking in with yourself and checking in with your body and it's a devotional practice to yourself to cultivate your health and well-being, and unification with your inner self. So everything that you do or everything that you set out to do that is in devotion to yourself, that is in development of becoming the person that you most want to be, living the life that's most aligned with who you are with your values; those things further the journey and the experience with yourself. But those things are not always going to be enjoyable and you're not going to want to do them every day. But checking in with the overarching vision for yourself can help you stay connected to that. And can help you stay connected to the purpose behind it.  

When it comes to the idea of failure or falling off the wagon, I always like to say that you can start over anytime you want. Just because we're setting these intentions now and or, you know, whenever you set them, let's say you do them for a couple weeks or a couple months and then it starts to wane and fall off, that doesn't mean you can't start over and keep going. I have a running practice that I've had for years and I will go months without running. It doesn't mean that I can't ever run again, you know? I can put on those shoes and go to the gym or step outside and start running anytime I want. It's just a matter of connecting with myself and connecting with why I want to do this thing. Reminding myself that it's something that I want to cultivate for myself. It's a practice that I do love, as challenging as it is, and then encouraging myself to do it because I want to be devoted to the practices, the principles, the lifestyle, and virtues that make me feel most alive.  

I am working on a vision worksheet that will be available soon to everyone listening if you're interested. It helps you create not only this kind of vision that you might be wanting to cultivate for this next year, to help you stay connected to or to create intentions for the next year, but also, how to remind yourself of that vision and that outcome on a regular basis. You can start by, you know, writing it out clearly and saving it as a screen saver on your phone, creating a vision board, checking in with yourself on a monthly basis or semi regular basis, or waking up and reading your vision every single day.  

There are so many things that you can do to stay connected to the intentions and to stay connected to the energy behind the intentions. But I think again, making sure that your intentions are really aligned with what you want and making sure that they really excite you, motivate you, energize you. And then moving forward with well, how to actually make those things real. A couple years ago, my cousin just set the intention of drinking more water all year, every day. And so even if it's just that, staying very connected to what it is that makes the most sense for you, and then you can figure out.  

There are so many ways to remind yourself of these things on a on a regular daily basis. And again that vision worksheet will be available very soon for everybody. But I think just making sure that there's energy and motivation and that it's connected to you from the very beginning is the best way to keep the intentions alive and so that you come back to them whenever.

Kimmy: First, I want to say drinking water is such a good resolution. That's  just good for all of us. Just a good all around. So good on your cousin. Maybe that will be one of mine! But also, I’d like to say that I have done envisioning work with you and reviewed this vision worksheet and I think that it is amazing. I mean, I hadn't thought about it in terms of resolutions or goal setting for this next year, but you talking about that sort of woke something up in me where I was like, oh, yeah, envisioning!  

And I think that having the vision day to day, whether it be a screensaver on your phone or even just reviewing the vision worksheet or setting reminders is so good because so much of action and acting from a place of center come from being able to imagine it and feel excited, which envisioning can really do. If you start envisioning and you have a goal in mind where, like you said, it just doesn't feel good, then when you start to envision it, you're gonna be able to see like, yeah, that does not feel exciting. That does not feel great.  

But then, we can also think about the message from your yoga instructor years ago. If your resolution is to cultivate a greater sense of vitality or a greater sense of well-being, and you have that vision of yourself and in all these different contexts feeling more vital, feeling more energized, feeling more aligned, then it's going to allow you to feel a little bit more assured of your decision to go to a yoga practice on days when you're like, I don't know if this is what I want to do. And sometimes you know, you gotta listen to that and you gotta let yourself rest. But other times you may be able to look at that vision and be like this is in service of the greater vision and that feels really good. Even just making that decision for yourself, remembering that you’re not always going to feel the most vital or excited or enlivened to do that thing. But it all comes from a place of caring for yourself, which I think vision practices can really help with. And even just visually having something as a reminder of that, I is really important because when it just exists in the ether and you're like, ‘Oh yeah, my goal. Blah. I just look at it every once in a while and kind of feel bad about myself.’ That's not the best.

Hollis: Yeah. Yeah. I am such a goal setter. I'm such an intention setter. I do it on a regular basis and I can go overboard. I mean, you should see my goal list from last year. It's intense. But what I recommend to people is that you give yourself a check in. I try to check in monthly or seasonally with where I'm at with the things that I said that I was going to do at the beginning of the year or at the beginning of the month or whenever I like. I just check in and I'm like, OK, what have I done? What have I not done? And rather than focusing also on what I've not done, I really focus on what I have done and I don't beat myself up too much if I haven't done what I said I was going to do because life gets in the way. Life gets crazy. There are things that are going to pop up that we can't expect and we have to be able to have the flexibility to go with the flow. But also, you know, hold yourself accountable. Hold yourself accountable to the things that you really want to do for yourself. And if there's a way for you to do that, I mean, that's going to make you feel better about yourself rather than just saying, oh, I'm a failure. Oh, I just didn't do that. You know?  

If you really want to build something into your life and I'm not saying it has to be something outrageous like make $1,000,000 this year. It can be something as simple as drinking more water. Hold yourself accountable and see what you can do to live up to what you say you're going to do. Because also by proving to yourself on a more regular basis that you're doing what you say you're going to do, even if it's in small incremental amounts, the more you'll also be able to trust yourself to do other things that you really want to do, and you'll build more strength of character, strength in yourself. And even if I do drop off a little bit here and there, I know that I can forgive myself for that and I can always keep going.  

I think the whole thing about intentions and goal setting is that we're trying to build on our sense of purpose. Build a life around the things that we find most valuable. If we're just going through life without reflecting on what it is exactly that we want or what it is that we want to bring to our lives, then it can feel kind of purposeless and it can feel like we're not necessarily staying connected to what we most value and life can start to feel life can start to feel a little flat. So there is this desire to set goals and intentions, but also to keep expanding ourselves and to keep again, creating these lives that we're most excited about. But then the other part of that is doing the thing that we set out to do. We have to be able to build the muscle and the skill set to trust ourselves to do the things that we set out to do. Whatever that looks like for you.  

I think we've given some good examples of reminders, but at the end of the day, it's like, how can you show up for yourself? And show up for yourself even when it's hard. And show up for the bigger vision, the long term vision of the life that really lights you up on a regular basis.

Kimmy: Right. And I think it can be really nice to actually look at what we've done in the past year that are things to celebrate. I don't even remember my resolutions from last year, or if I even made any, but there are certainly things that I can look at to remind myself of how I have taken care of myself in the past year, and it doesn't really look like what we imagined the execution of the intention or the resolution, but you're capable. Everyone has something to be very proud of within the past year if they look closely and are really honest with themselves and not to not too hard on themselves. You can probably find many things to feel proud of and feel like you've accomplished and are still building for yourself even as we step into another year. You'll continue building.

Hollis: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that's where I would like to end with a few little action steps for people, for how to take all of this and make it real and tangible for themselves and using that as the jumping off point. I think that even though this time of year can be super chaotic and there can be so much going on it, I think we can all think of just three things that we're really proud of. That we either accomplished or said or did or created or cultivated for ourselves this year. I want to say three to five things. Like if you have a little bit of time write down a couple more if you feel excited and inspired write down a couple more, obviously go on a bender with how many amazing things you did this year if you have that time. If you don't have that time just think of the three, three things.  

And then also think of a few things that that you want to approach differently or the ways in which you want to behave differently and what is the purpose, the desired outcome, or experience that you're seeking when saying this needs to be different? How does it need to be different? What would it look like in an ideal sense and then using that as the jumping off point for the intentions that you can set fo the next year.  

And again, they don't have to be big. They can be things that are so, so simple. If you want to get concrete about them, obviously go for it. Write out the lists, but do it in a way that you know is not putting too much pressure on yourself, but actually feels really good. It's that balance between the ease and the effort. We're talking so much yoga language here. That balance between it being useful and fun while also pushing your growth edges a little bit and maybe pushing you out of your comfort zone a little bit as well.

Kimmy: I love that. I feel like having a clear, concrete thing to start reflecting on is a really good place to begin reflection and then intention setting so.

Hollis: Yeah. Well, and that's also what we do in the vision worksheet. I have you explore where it is that you are now or what's not working right now and that's the jumping off point for what needs to change. So, part one, do some reflection on what went well, what went not so well. And part 2, use that as the foundation for the intentions that you would like to set for the next year. Keep them really simple. Ease and effort. Ease between the effort. And then part 3, download the vision worksheet and use that to help you to help you make these intentions actually manifest in the next year in a way that feels really good and exciting in ways that you can see them actually happening.

Kimmy: Awesome.

Hollis: Great. Well, is there anything else you want to talk about? I feel like we very briefly or very rarely said The Pros and Cons of New Year's Resolutions, but that's what we're talking about in this episode. So is there anything else, Kimmy, that you feel like we need to discuss here?

Kimmy: No, I think one of the hardest parts about the concept of setting New Year's resolutions, is just taking an honest stock of where you're at. And just like meeting yourself where you're at and allowing yourself the time to rest.

Hollis: Yes, absolutely. No action can come if you're not fully rested. So, and even though this episode will be dropping after the winter solstice, it's still a fantastic time of year in general to just hibernate a little bit, go a little dark, only do the things that feel really, really good right now. Just let yourself rest and rejuvenate. And then go at your own pace. Trust that it's all going to happen in the right time. It does not all have to happen right now.

Kimmy: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Hollis: Well, wonderful. Thank you so much again, Kimmy.

Kimmy: Yeah. Thank you for having me again.

Hollis: And thank you to everyone who listened today. Again, if you have any thoughts, questions, comments, we'd love to hear them. Wishing you all a very, very happy and peaceful New Year. See you in 2024.

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