Laura Shipp Profile Photo

Laura Shipp, associate well-being coach

In her latest CheekyLittleCareers blog associate well-being coach, Laura Shipp, explains why January isn’t always the best time to make resolutions and why instead she opted for ‘intentions’. 

With its dreary long nights and bitterly cold temperatures, January is always a bleak month that seems to drag on forever and forever with this year being no exception. Indeed, no thanks to the Covid19 pandemic, January 2021 has been the slowest EVER. For me the past 31 days have felt more like 310 days.

January was also a drawn-out month for me on a professional level. During my career as an HR professional, the first month of a calendar year typically coincided with a flurry of activity to complete compensation reviews in readiness for the bonus season and then more recently preparing for people and talent reviews. Both were tedious and time-consuming, meaning many late nights.

And as for new year’s resolutions? In my heyday of working in the City, like so many of my contemporaries I’d always resolve to cut my alcohol intake. But despite my best endeavours, the pressures of working in a fast-paced environment combined with the long hours culture, meant by mid-January my new year’s resolution was quickly confined to history. Instead, predictably on the second Friday in January I’d end up going for a ‘quick’ after work drink. The one drink turned into two and eventually there I was – dancing to cheesy music in a grotty City nightclub.

Not only had I sabotaged dry January, I also failed to do any exercise the following morning as I’d be nursing a stinking hangover. A further perfect example of a resolution I wasn’t able to follow through on.

Personally, I believe January isn’t necessarily the best time to start resolutions because we almost programme ourselves to ‘fail’ during what is already a challenging month for all the reasons I’ve outlined above. That’s why, as bizarre as it may sound coming from me, I found setting resolutions for the Chinese New Year more realistic. I always saw the period between 1 January and the Chinese New Year as being a time for reflection and learning why resolutions had fallen by the wayside.

Going into lockdown 3.0 on 5 January was understandably a major catalyst for some resolutions being abandoned, 12 days earlier than what has become known as ‘Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day’ on 17 January.

Therefore, this year I decided against resolutions and instead made some intentions. This proved to be a wise choice. There was no way, after drinking more than I usually do on New Year’s Eve, I was going to start the planned five-week liver cleanse on 1 January. I didn’t beat myself up about it and nor did I feel guilty treating myself to take-away curry. Instead, my partner and I started dry January on the fourth day of the month, and I’m pleased to say we are still going strong. Historically, that wouldn’t have been the case. I would’ve simply given up with my resolutions owing to most of them being unrealistic in the first place.

If, like so many others, you haven’t stuck to your resolutions rather than beating yourself up about it, perhaps ask yourself these questions:

  1. Could setting micro goals or intentions be better? If so, how about setting some for Chinese New Year? It is 12 February in case you wondered.
  2. What would you gain from these goals or intentions rather than what you are giving up / losing?
  3. But ultimately be kind to yourself.