Resolutions, Ceremony, and the Five Elements

Dear Vicki: I love New Years resolutions! Committing to what I want to accomplish next year makes me happy. Unfortunately, my husband hates the idea! Every year it’s impossible to get him excited about sharing thoughts for the coming year. And when he does finally agree, it’s like the Grinch is here to stay. I’m dreading January this year because I know it will just be one more fight about resolutions. Of course, I could make them alone, but we’ve been together a long time and so much of what happens in my life involves him. How do I get him excited about New Year’s resolutions? Signed: Resolutions for Me

Dear Resolutions: You don’t mention what elements you and your husband are, but based on your letter, I can make an educated guess. Because you enjoy coming up with resolutions for the New Year, I suspect that you are most likely a Wood. The arena of focus for Wood is the future, and there is nothing more future-oriented than resolutions. Honestly, they’re really nothing more than glorified plans for change, and Woods are excellent planners.

The fact that your husband hates resolutions (rather than just finding them boring, pointless, or silly) suggests that he has a lot of Metal. The arena of focus for Metals is the past; they excel at synthesizing the events that occur over the course of a cycle, be that a month, a season, a lifetime, or longer. Metals are brilliant at looking backward and bringing wisdom forward. But it’s often difficult for them to project themselves into the future; they just don’t think that way.

Our culture definitely focuses on New Years resolutions. But the fact that so many people embrace the practice of making resolutions doesn’t suggest that we’re a world of Woods. Rather, I think it suggests that each element can and does have a connection to the idea of a fresh start. We just need to understand that connection. Let’s take a closer look at how each element might respond to the idea of New Years resolutions, and then we’ll consider how you might encourage your husband to embrace them.

As we said, New Years resolutions are a fancy way of formalizing desired changes for the coming year. Woods are the planners of the Five Elements, so they will love the idea of making resolutions and will probably stick with them for some time. They have that motive power of manifestation that carries them a long way toward a goal, and they also have a great deal of structure. How successful Woods are at keeping their resolutions often depends on how reasonable the goal was in the first place.

The reasonableness of the resolution takes us to Water. Waters are big picture thinkers. They love pondering big questions and dreaming about new ways of looking at and doing things. Imagination sits in Water. Practicality isn’t a big concern for Waters, which means that they aren’t likely to create overly reasonable resolutions. Productivity and action aren’t big deals for Waters either (those sit in Wood), so their resolutions might be more like guidelines to be considered rather than concrete plans to be achieved. When that’s the case, resolutions provide fodder for lively Water discussions and sometimes, even success.

Fires usually find it easy to make New Year’s resolutions. They live in the now, so if the people around them are making resolutions, Fires will make them, too. But while Fires will approach their resolutions with the best of intentions, their lack of structure often makes it difficult for Fires to keep their resolutions. If a Fire becomes distracted by an idea or event running contrary to their resolution, the big “Yes!” they have for the new idea often undermines their resolution. And honestly, by the time the new rolls around, many Fires have forgotten their old resolution, anyway. For Fires, it’s all about the now.

New Years resolutions made by Earths will usually relate to food or be made to benefit someone else. Earths care deeply about people and causes, and want to help others in any way they can. Because of this, Earths are likely to keep to their resolutions longer than the other elements if the resolutions make a difference for others. If the resolution helps them personally, they are less likely to stick to it, especially if it involves dieting. Earths love food and sharing food with others. Anything that curtails that can be a downer for an Earth and usually won’t last too long.

Looking at Metals, we’ve already said that planning and forward thinking isn’t their thing. This means that the making of New Years resolutions isn’t a good fit for them unless you can convince them that it’s the “right” thing to do or embed it so deeply into the fabric of your life that it becomes a natural part of the process of the season. Neither of these are easy to accomplish. But there is a way you can encourage your Metal husband to be part of planning for the New Year and that’s through the use of ceremony, something Metals usually enjoy. Let me explain.

I’m a Wood married to Metal and have dealt with the same issue you face. What we have come to is a short Five Elements ceremony we do every year during the first week of January. We begin by looking back over the old year and privately listing for ourselves: a) the high and low points (very Metal), b) what we have learned (very Metal), and c) what we want to release to leave behind in the old year (very Metal). Then we each make a second list of what we hope to take with us from the old year into the new year (very Water) and what we hope to manifest in the new year (very Wood). Finally, we make a separate mini list of what we want to release and, after thanking it for the lessons, we burn that mini list (very Fire) and keep everything else. Then we toast the New Year (very Earth)!

We have done this ceremony for many years as a way of addressing the New Years resolutions issue and it not only feels good, but seems to meet both of our needs. I hope it helps you. Happy New Year!

fire sun2



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