Deep Thoughts

This is why the “New Year, New Me” philosophy doesn’t work

That special time of year has arrived once again, no I’m not talking about Christmas as that was last month, I’m talking about the annual January purge with the arrival of the New Year, New Me movement.

For whatever reason our society has followed a yearly pattern in which we treat the start of the year as an opportunity to shed our past identity and look to build something new. Now before we jump into this, I want to make it clear that I’m all for personal improvement and making sustainable positive change to your lifestyle.

What I am concerned with is the cycle of madness which I find many people partaking in that promotes the destruction of present identities, habits, behaviours, thoughts and so on. These are then replaced with the new attributes that people wish to have but with no real plan on how to obtain these whilst understanding where you are in your journey right now. On top of this we have the added element where most people want immediate results, which means they attempt to go from 0 – 100% change in less then a week.

So what can we do to help ourselves and others in making sustainable changes in the year ahead? I’m going to cover a couple of points in this piece which could help you, including not killing your current identity, embracing your past, reflecting on the lessons learnt so far and how we can develop new healthy, sustainable change to habits, behaviours and thoughts.

I found some of the inspiration for this post in a recent philosophy that struck me in the middle of a workout session. That philosophy is “Old does not mean dead, new does not mean best”, which can be interpreted in a variety of ways of course and I feel applied to many areas of life too.

Let’s jump into it shall we…… 


New Year, New Me!?

Let’s examine how the philosophy I just shared with you can be applied to the yearly cycle of the “new year, new me” movement.

In my opinion, this community of people (and I mostly find it’s the same people every year) use this movement to convince themselves that they must destroy their old ways of living, their current identity and develop a brand new outlook.

Now while I commend anyone who is looking to improve and develop their life, yet doing this by ‘making a new you’ isn’t something I look at as healthy or sustainable. But what do I mean by this?

Well instead of destroying your current identity and developing something completely new, where you try to change every single habit, behaviour or thought you’ve had until this point. I would suggest a focus on evolving from where you currently stand, developing and building piece by piece. I believe as many do find, deciding to overhaul everything about you and adopting such a drastic new approach, often leads to giving up early in the crusade (there are outliers of course).

Now not everyone decides to change lots about their current lifestyle. Some decide to focus on micro-level changes like being kinder to others, dropping 10 pounds of body weight or finding the time to read more often.

These are all great and very achievable if you have the right planning and preparation covered.

Where many of us have seen this go awry should I say, is when one decides to conduct a complete redesign of their lifestyle without a realistic plan. The most common examples of this are when people decide to improve their fitness. They’ll go to the gym 4-5 times a week, stop eating any foods they deem as bad and swear to never touch a drop of alcohol again. The problem with this is that many of these people are coming from a point where they do 0% of this at present and are jumping to the full 100% in the first week.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will the way you want to setup your lifestyle.

Don’t kill the old you

I find many people who jump onto this movement have told themselves that they must kill the old version of themselves and perform a complete overhaul of their identity.

This is where I disagree.

I would encourage you not to do destroy your current identity and instead look at how you can develop the habits, behaviours and skills you wish to possess from your current point. Look to develop a plan that will enable you to evolve from who you are now into the person you want to be.

We cannot run from our past or change it. To deny past experiences and pretend that a new identity where you don’t reflect or look to those moments will fix life is the stuff of magic. Long term change cannot be achieved in denying and refusing to learn from the experience that you already possess. 

I find a more positive and sustainable way to move forward is in understanding your identity (who you are) now, so that you think about how you wish to develop this over the course of the next year and beyond.


What can you do?

Plan how to build and/or evolve from where you are now. Don’t tell everyone and yourself that the old you is gone and you’re a whole new being.

Instead look at how you’re living now, identify what you’d like to change and start to build a plan that will help you make those changes. No drastic reinventions are needed. Just good old planning, preparation and hard work to execute it. 


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