Resolutions, Fresh Starts, and Ceremony

Dear Vicki: I love New Year’s 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

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Dear Resolutions: This is an issue many of us have faced and I believe that understanding your elemental personality (and your husband’s) will help you address it very comfortably. The fact that you enjoy coming up with resolutions for the New Year suggests that you are probably a Wood personality. The arena of focus for Wood people is the future, and there is nothing more future-oriented than creating resolutions for the coming year. In truth, resolutions are really just glorified plans for change and Wood people excel at planning.

The fact that your husband hates resolutions (rather than just finding them boring, pointless, or silly) suggests that he is probably a Metal personality. The arena of focus for Metal people 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, which is probably one reason your husband hates making resolutions.

The idea of making New Year’s resolutions is popular in our culture not because we’re a world of Wood personalities. Instead, I think the popularity of resolutions suggests that each elemental personality can and does have a connection to the idea of a fresh start. Let’s take a closer look at how each element might respond to the idea of New Year’s resolutions and then we’ll consider how you might encourage your husband to embrace them a bit more.

As we said, New Year’s resolutions are a fancy way of formalizing desired changes for the coming year. Wood people are the planners of the Five Elements personalities, so they usually love the idea of making resolutions and will probably stick with them for some time. They have access to the motive power of manifestation, too, which carries them a long way toward a goal. Woods also have a great deal of structure, which helps them stay focused. How successful Wood personalities are at keeping their resolutions will usually depend on how reasonable their goal was in the first place.

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

Fire people usually find it easy to make New Year’s resolutions. They live in the now, so if the people around them are making resolutions, Fire personalities will make them, too. But while Fire people will approach their resolutions with the best of intentions, their lack of structure often makes it difficult for them 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 the resolution. And honestly, by the time the new rolls around, many Fire personalities have forgotten their old resolutions, anyway. For Fire people, it’s all about the now.

New Year’s resolutions made by Earth people will usually relate to food or be made to benefit someone else. Earth personalities 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 elemental personalities, especially 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. Earth people love food and sharing food with others. Anything that curtails that can be a downer for an Earth and usually won’t last very long.

Looking at Metal people, we’ve already said that planning and forward thinking isn’t their thing. This means that the making of New Year’s resolutions usually 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 season. Neither of these are necessarily easy to accomplish with Metal personalities. 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 Metal people usually enjoy. Let me explain.

I’m a Wood personality married to a Metal personality and have dealt with the same issue you face. What we have embraced is a short Five Elements ceremony that 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 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) to let go of what’s on it (very Metal). Then we toast the New Year (very Earth)!

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

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