Goal setting in the new year

New Years and the holiday season in general is such an interesting time in America. There is a ton of build up and anxious energy surrounding holiday planning, shopping, and in general the slow down of the end of the year. As someone who doesn’t personally celebrate Christmas, or do much on New Years, it is still quite evident. There are company holiday parties, annual reviews, shopping deals in my inbox and in general accommodating and preparing for the exodus of people from the city. This time of year it gets very quiet - traffic becomes less intense, restaurants and stores put on holiday hours, and people start thinking about their resolutions for the new year and summarize their accomplishments and life milestones of the past year.

While I enjoy all of this, in particular this year I had to step back and wonder why we limit ourselves to doing this celebrating and retrospecting only once a year, at the very end, in the darkest and shortest days? We really jam pack it in the 6 weeks from Thanksgiving to New Years Eve. But we don’t have to.

A lot of the cozy, reflective feeling, the gathering with friends, celebrating the year, has to do with being present and mindful of what and who we have. But imagine if we made an effort to do this more often?

I really think holidays and demarcations of the passage of time are important. But resolving for an entire year is pretty impossible, in my experience, Jewish new year or secular. I could stick a post it note on the fridge and every day and reflect on my wishes and promises to myself and others. Or, I could break up the year into pieces and focus on a few months at a time. Large goals are hard to crush, but smaller, well planned ones aren’t. This fantastic New York Times article helped me start thinking about this.

So my overarching resolution today is to think of the year in terms of quarters. But not financial quarters, which loop with an unpleasantness in the business world, but in terms of the seasons, using the equinoxes and the solstices of the earth to guide my goals.

In the northern hemisphere where I live, the spring equinox is on March 20th. That’s about 11 weeks, or almost 3 months from today - a perfect segment of time to bite off some goals. Perhaps by aligning my goals with the changing of the seasons, it will help me stay on track, better recognizing the passage of time and cueing to myself to make progress in the specific season.

If you feel like joining me in this adventure, the other equinoxes and solstices in the northern hemisphere are:

Summer solstice: June 21st

Fall equinox: September 22nd

Winter solstice: December 21st

And while we’re at it, attuning our daily lives with the movement of the earth, I felt like I should understand solstices and equinoxes a little better. After reading a few articles, here’s the hot take:

The equinox (spring and fall), is when the days and nights are as close to equal (12 hours day, 12 hours night) as they will ever be during the year. This is also when the sun is the closest it will get to the equator of the earth.

The solstice (summer and winter), reflects the point when Earth’s orbit is at the furthest distance it can possibly be from the equator, creating the shortest day of the year (the least amount of sunlight) in winter, and the longest day of the year (and most amount of sunlight) in summer.

Enjoy your winter solstice, and happy goal reaching!