Firstly the credit for 2020 'The Year of Plenty' lies to my clever friend Claudia. Secondly, I’m amazed this blog has been done in time for you to contemplate how you would like to approach the coming new year/decade: a powerful double event. Every major shift on the calendar is a chance to perhaps tweak some bad habits or set new agendas and intentions for ourselves. ( a small goal was to get this blog done before I go to China- win).
Growth and change should be embraced as exciting opportunities to do things differently, yet we often panic about how to maintain these ‘resolutions’. Perhaps that’s because we give them too much power and we shame and guilt ourselves at the first hurdle and then give up entirely.
I get it- some of the resolutions don’t stick. I am no pious resolution upholder. I never did learn Italian (despite the native boyfriends). I did manage the DJ lessons but no gig. I keep attempting ‘the crow’ in yoga yet it’s resembling an arthritic crab. Resolutions, goals and change can all be intimidating notions tied up with guilt and regret.
Due to this, I did some reading about what our goals were and why we shelve them so quickly- below is the summation.
The majority of resolutions were standard issue health improvements. Eating more healthily, drinking less, quitting smoking and more exercise. A generalization formed from the research is that nearly every person wants to improve their well-being.
There are two schools of thought on how to achieve resolutions: being specific on the parameters of the goal and habit formation.
The Chinese attribute types of behaviour to disharmony in a certain organ. Eg the gallbladder is related to planning and decision-making, the kidney is about the will and an overworked spleen causes circular thoughts that make new habits hard to stick with.
The clearest part of the research is that people want to be well but don’t make time for their health. The body is a machine that needs maintenance, it sadly doesn’t update itself like computer software- yet. So in the meantime, we need to use the very basic idea of when you feel better ( deal with insomnia, address the bad back, cut back on stress, stop feeling anxious ) you then have the energy and headspace to achieve more.
Ideas About How to Achieve Health and Other Goals.
This article from The Telegraph has sound advice on how to specify your goals and how to achieve them with rewards along the way. It’s basically being awarded Brownie badges- for grown-ups. A piece on specific goal setting for NYR.
All good intentions can fall apart when the attempts don’t provide immediate results. The problem is either the goal is too broad or not broken into attainable chunks. For e.g think about how people train for a marathon. You don’t just pop on your trainers on January 1st and clock up 26.2 miles on a Berocca and a bacon sandwich. Realistically on the first day, you might start with a ten-minute jog and a high five for effort.
The habit-forming camp is also a strong way to approach things if you don’t want to put pressure on yourself to hit targets but enjoy routine. Tricks for positive habit forming from the Guardian.
I love a self-help book. Who doesn’t like betterment ideology devised by someone else? If you read the above Guardian article Gretchen Rubin has a fun quiz link there. Rubin also wrote a best-selling book The Happiness Project. It’s got ideas on how to alter your perspective towards happiness and achieve it in different forms. The ideas are simple and effective.
Chinese Medicine and Goal Setting
As for the Chinese links with organ imbalance and behaviour patterns, the theory is constantly proven in the clinic. It’s spookily accurate. I can now diagnose myself when I’m lacking a bit of oomph.
January is an interesting time for Westerners to set New Years' Resolutions as it comes after a time of delicious indulgence in cheese, pigs in blankets and booze. This burdens your liver and gallbladder ( which are paired in Chinese medicine) and the gallbladder helps with planning and decision-making. So a strained gallbladder is not loving a 20-point plan for World Domination just because the calendar turned a page.
Equally the kidney is where we draw from when we need to keep going. Overwork and insufficient rest draw on the ‘jing’ or ‘life essence’. This comes at the end of a long year where we top it off with a dirty old ‘liver party.’ The kidney is responsible for will in an emotional capacity. Therefore a weakened kidney cannot sustain the willpower to commit to new endeavours.
An overburdened spleen ( rich foods, too much screen time, and worry ) can produce a foggy head and excessive thinking without the energy to act, so you keep going around in circles.
If you want to outsmart your gallbladder and kidney (and enhance sticking to your goals) acupuncture could help. There is a point designed especially for this Bl52 ‘Ambition Room’. Also Bl 60 'Kunlun Mountain' is said to help people gain a better perspective. Unblocking or shifting the qi can encourage motivation to flow and provide clarity. An added bonus is better sleep, ease in dealing with stress and the energy to set your alarm for the gym, yoga or meditation.
Acupuncture is an ancient way to maintain health, because it is holistic it can tackle a number of issues at once- which is very efficient in terms of reaching goals faster.
My intention was to end with something deeply philosophical of a Chinese nature but I still haven’t even read the 'Tao Of Pooh’. It's on my list for 2020.