Instead Of Making A New Year's Resolution, Try This

Written by Paula Watkins, PhD

Let’s get one thing clear: I'm not against New Year’s Resolutions. It’s just that I’ve found something better. There’s an almost sacred symbolism embedded in the New Year celebration, and I’m all for that. It’s a time for renewal, a time to review, reflect and re-prioritize for the year ahead. The problem is that it’s a whole year ahead, which means (a) it doesn’t take a year to make a stable change, and (b) it takes a lot less than a year to forget a promise you made to yourself.

Perhaps all went well with your last resolution. If so, you might like to stop reading. If not, join me, because this isn't an article about New Year’s resolutions. You won't feel like a failure, and I promise you, if you pick up these suggestions, you’ll have a better chance of creating real change in 2014.

Thanks to my yoga practice, I discovered the New and Full Moon Rhythm as an alternative to the New Year’s resolution, and when I started it felt like a “duh” moment — like, “Why haven’t I been doing this my whole life? It seems so sensible.” It also fits with my understanding of human behavior change and where my training as a clinical psychologist meets my training and practice as a yogini.

New Moon Resolutions and Full Moon Reflections have changed my life, and in watching clients I’ve seen this rhythm work equally well for yogis and non-yogis alike. Suffice it to say this approach isn’t unique to yoga. In many cultures, the new and full moon periods are sacred times for ritual, ceremony and the setting of intentions/goals.

Here are some suggestions on how to ignite your own New Moon Resolution practice, some examples from my personal approach, and a little extra information on the symbolism of this process.

Plan Ahead

First up, schedule the year ahead according the New or Full Moon. I like to use both (as I’ll explain further … the New Moon for setting new intentions and resolutions, and the Full Moon for reflecting on my journey) but you could simply use one or the other as a point to both reflect on the month that was and resolve for the month ahead.

New Moon: Begin Anew

The new moon is about new beginnings.

In terms of symbolism, at this time, the moon is located directly between the sun and earth, which means we can only see the side of it that's not lit by the sun. Like on New Year’s Eve, there’s a sense of intrigue and wonder about what will happen next. There’s a feeling of hope and potential for the next phase in the journey. It’s time to regenerate and reset.

Questions and Reflections

  • What’s next?
  • What’s my intention for the month ahead?

After the new moon we enter into the “waxing moon.” During this time the moon collects more light until, two weeks later, it is full.

Full Moon: Contemplate

The full moon is about reflection, insight and celebration. It’s a time to take stock, contemplate, review, evaluate and gain perspective.

Symbolically, when the moon is full, there's no place to hide — we must face what is.

It’s a time to confront anything we've been looking away from, but it’s also a time to celebrate. We celebrate the fullness of our lives, and we take time to see ourselves in the fullness of life itself.

Questions and Reflections

  • How have I been doing?
  • What isn't serving me?
  • What can I let go of?
  • What’s the bigger picture here?

After the full moon we enter into the “waning moon” which appears smaller and smaller in shape each day until the cycle begins again.


For me this approach works on many levels — it attunes me and fine tunes me so that life becomes a continuous process of change and evolution.

This process also attunes me to the rhythms of nature. It’s a reminder that these rhythms are ancient and organic (something beyond the rhythm of 9 to 5). I’m also reminded to immerse myself in and honor other natural rhythms: seasons and days/nights. In the words of my yoga teacher, Shiva Rea:

“The 26 new and full moons, eight solar junctures and sunrise-sunset daily and weekly rhythms are heightened times to … unplug yourself … to tend your energy, and listen deeply”.

Happy New Year!

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