It’s scarcely a few hours into this bright shiny new year of 2019, and what’s the betting you’re already succumbing to the ‘noise’ about New Year, New You?
Is falling for this demand upon you really going to help you in the year ahead? Is it going to create the life or the business you want, or do you need to shift the emphasis to more ‘self acceptance’?
You know the drill.
You clear away the last of the wine bottles from the New Year celebrations, palm the chocolates and biscuits off on colleagues as best you can, and you’re determined that you’ll follow the New Year New You mantra and become a better version of yourself.
But what does that ‘new version’ mean?
Really? What does it represent?
Are you convinced that a pound or two lighter in weight will make you a better business owner, colleague, entrepreneur – or even parent or partner?
Are you truly of the belief that success lies in total overhaul and a turning away from everything you’ve been before now?
Of course, to be realistic about it, we all know that change is multifaceted, and that often we have to tweak many things in our world to make a real and impactful difference to the way we’re perceived and the way we perceive the universe.
And yet, this is definitely the time of year when we get caught up in being focused of the negative aspects of what we were or are, such that we’re consumed by annoyance with ourselves for having been too lazy, disorganised, lacking in ambition, scared of failure, willing to accept bad behaviour of others.
Naval gazing like this is useful to a point, because it tells us what we DO NOT want to be in future months and years, but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the more we THINK of the negative, the more we STAY in the negative.
Katie Jasper was exactly one of these people. At 38, she was entering another cycle of January self-flagellation around everything she ought to change and improve, as part of a New Year overhaul.
“I had spent the weeks of the Christmas holidays going over and over in my head how I hadn’t achieved what I ought to, how much I wanted to change and how angry and annoyed I was with myself and my world, that I actually became pretty self obsessed with that dialogue over the festive season,” she explains.
“As New Year arrived and all those headlines were screaming out about New Year New You, I thought to myself ‘enough already’.
“Sure, I needed to perhaps shift a pound or two, but even that wasn’t going to change me and the way I was in business and life. The more important thing was just to switch off the self criticism and flip into the positive.”
Katie chose to take a week to reflect on what she really wanted from the way she was leading her own brand and business.
She was a stressed out executive search professional who felt pushed from pillar to post by demanding clients seeking candidates for their high paid roles.
“The thinking time was great. I worked with a coach to really get straight in my mind about what I enjoyed about my career and what I needed to alter. More of that came from being ‘grateful for who I was’ than from ‘needing to change who I was’.
“I recognised that being me made me great for certain candidate searches and that my empathy and experiences made me perfect to push my business into a particular women-only niche.
“It was as if I was speaking to the universe in positive vibes all of a sudden, because within six months I was enjoying work more, had more quality time with family, became more financially comfortable – and even met someone who really loves and understands me.”
Alice Haley was 43 when she reached a similar milestone and discovered the power of self-acceptance and working on the positive to enhance your own brand and perception of the world.
She’d been divorced for three years, was constantly struggling the demands of co-parenting, and was running a small ethical fashion brand when the penny dropped.
“I remember being in the studio of my workplace on my own on New Year’s Day a few years ago, listening to all the discussion about New Year, New You, and thinking ‘maybe I need to be a new me’,” she admits.
“The more I listened the more I realised that everyone was changing their body or their style or their dating choices, based on what they thought the world expected or what they hoped would bring them happiness.
“Something made me think about the fact that in the world of ‘fashion brands’ I talk to clients all the time about being proud to be unique, and celebrating style differences.
“I needed to find a way to celebrate what I was and see it as a positive, rather than always feeling like the ‘not good enough Mummy’ or the ‘not quite successful enough businesswoman’.”
Like Katie, Alice reached out for an empathetic female coach who could help her on a journey of accountability.
She didn’t want to ‘overhaul’, but to flip her too-often-negative thinking about herself, and be reminded EVERY SINGLE DAY, that someone had got her back and that they had an idea to assist her business journey.
“The coach I worked with was great,” Alice beams.
“I initially started on a one month plan, and every day, I received at least one nugget of advice, suggestion, contact, event idea, award concept or just affirmation trigger – all of which reminded me that although the children often weren’t with me, and that I didn’t have a husband, I was GOOD ENOUGH.
“I decided the coach was such a positive scenario for me that I would then contract the concept for my five employees.
“As part of their employee wellbeing and mental health support, I assign my coach to be in touch with them once a week and flip their thinking into the positive.
“I’m thrilled with how it’s worked – for them and for me.”
Whether you can empathise with Alice and Katie or not, or whether you still feel the need to forgo the alcohol and shift some pounds as your focus this month, consider that perhaps learning to be OK with OK, is perfectly acceptable too.
The truth is, we weren’t born perfect, and it would be a pretty boring place if we were.
By being you, being true, and being prepared to find the positive of who you are and who you want to be, can be the very best gift you can give yourself in 2019.