January 24-25 (depending on where you are in the world) is the first new moon of the new year. The beginning of the Lunar New Year and therefor Happy Chinese New Year! (Year of the rat.)
We are 24 days into our Gregorian new year. How is your resolution going? Maybe you didn’t make one because it just leads to failure, shame, and feeling bad about oneself. Or maybe the excitement of the new year has fizzled, the work load and daily stresses have continued, and you have already forgotten the promise you made to yourself just 3 weeks ago. It’s okay, we’ve all been there. January 17 is celebrated as “quitting day” for this very reason. The majority of us have abandoned our resolution just 17 days into the new year.
One reason resolutions don’t work is because we are not making S.M.A.R.T. goals. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, Time-bound. It is not realistic to think you can change a big part of your life magically all at once on the first day of a new year, however if you are giving yourself a whole year to, say, lose 20lbs, then you can work backward and make an action plan. “I need to lose 1.6lbs a month.” Okay how? You form a new habit “work out 3 times a week”. Those first few weeks are easy, but suddenly March rolls around, you haven’t lost any weight, and maybe you are not even working out.
This is where the new moon came into play for me. Every new year I get so inspired to make a change, improve myself and my life, but like everyone else the motivational drive peters out. So I would check in on my resolution seasonly or monthly. I would try to use every 1st of the month or every Monday as a new start, a new beginning, a new chance to capture that motivational mojo.
Then I read Prodigal Summer by Babara Kingsolver, I became curious about the moon phases. Barabra Kingsolver writes beautiful books that explore her characters relationship with each other and their natural environment, exploring how nature and people are intertwined. She is also scientist and weaves scientific ideas into great narratives and complex characters. In Prodigal Summer, a character, Deanna, warns her paramour that she is ovulating, when he presses her on how she can be sure
“She shrugged. Was he serious? A woman knew both those things if she was paying attention (…) ‘I sleep outside a lot,’ she said. ‘I’m on the same schedule as the moon (…) Any woman will ovulate with the full moon if she’s exposed to enough moonlight. It’s the pituitary gland does it, I guess. It takes a while to get there, but then you stay.'”Barbara Kingsolver
This passage made me use google to look back and see what phase the moon was in when I conceived each of my girls, and would you believe both were conceived within days of a full moon? Well that perked my curiosity. I researched the idea and found that some science has debunked it, but in this small case study 28.3% of woman did in fact synched up with the new moon. (Even so, no one should use the moon as birth control!)
The moon cycle is about 28 days, like a woman’s cycle. Have you heard it only takes 28 days to change a habit? While researching this post I discovered that AGAIN science says that is not true, it’s closer to 66 days… however checking in with myself every new moon keeps me on track with my short term habits and reevaluating my long term goals.
The new moonl (like the first day of the year or a Monday) is a great time to reinstate habits to reach your goal. It is new after all, feels like a good time for a new start. An example of an intention I have set in the past is “be nicer to yourself, stop negative self-talk” then 28 days later I mentally high five myself for doing it… or try again for 28 more days. If it was a goal it might look more like “get $50 into savings” or “drink 8 glasses of water.”
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~Aristotle
Now, sure, you can check in on your goal every first of the month or every 12 weeks. However, I personally just love the moon. It brings something special and magical to my mundane existence, makes me feel like a kid, when the world felt full of so many possibilities. The world is still full of so many possibilities we just have to work for them. Observing the moon in my calendar and outside in the sky reminds me of how big the world is, how small I am, but also, that there are things I can control. It reminds me to be both humble and powerful.
So today, on this first new moon of 2020, I challenge you to set a small intention or goal. It’s never to late to make a positive change in your current life cycle.
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