The New Year is imminent in the effect it has on our psyche. As the New Year begins, we often find ourselves thinking, ‘Is it time to shed my old skin?’

Thinking about letting go of certain aspects of our personality, or certain habits we have is thus, an integral part of what we’d like to call the ‘mental palette’ typical of the commencement of the New Year. We often begin to gauge inward to try and find out what is undesirable or unfavorable about our personality, in order to cleanse ourselves of these qualities, and become ‘better people’.

The true question to ask is whether the New Year is the only time that we actually get to introspect and ruminate over self-improvement. Introspection and gauging one’s self is something we can actually do throughout the course of the year, as we go through the myriad experiences that we are exposed to on a daily basis, which add up to the conglomerate that we view as our own experience at the end of every year. Rather than looking at things as a whole, we should maybe take things as they come, and understand how they add value to our personalities as they happen. This would probably give us a more accurate perception of our inner character as we live and thrive. Taking a cue from our previous posts on the Holiday Season, we’d like to gauge whether the New Year is truly a period for self-transformation, or merely a time when we think this change is necessary.

Image: Geimian Online

The other thing to take into consideration here is the notion of a calendar. Why must one stick by this notion, created by human culture, in order to improve the self? The quest to achieve the ideal balance of qualities and strengths to succeed is a continuous process, not guided by culturally created norms. While there may be normative behaviors for certain cultures, such as the individualistic and collectivistic of the West and East, but there is no ‘time frame’ or ‘best period within the span of a year’ to look inward. Our own experiences and qualities are accessible for introspection at all times, and may give us varied opportunities at different times to reflect.

This notion of a culturally created standard also prevails when we look at different religions, which celebrate the New Year during different periods of time within what is defined as the year. How do we define the ideal time to start this self-introspection then? Is the New year the only time to do it? The existence of varied dates for this occurrence are enough of an indication that one can desire change and improvement on every single day of a yearly period, rather than coming round to thinking of it at this particular time.

Image: The Ukiah California Daily Journal, Flickr

Looking at the conglomerate of our lived experience and trying to find faults can be a little overwhelming, because of the amount of faults we may find. Rather than carrying out such a rigorous process, we must gauge what we have done right and wrong in these parts that add up to the whole experience in order to really, truly understand where we stand in a particular realm. The whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts, but in this case, the conglomerate of ‘faults’ that we often pick out at the end of the year to harp and improve upon often seems a lot more daunting to deal with.

When we think about living up to certain expectations as the year comes to a close, we should ask ourselves whether we can replicate acts of self-appraisal that make us more aware of ourselves more often. Regularly ruminating about how to put our best foot forward, it enables us to manifest results. Sometimes, talking to a professional can make one aware that every single day is a pursuit towards finding new ways to look at the events that unfold around us. An objective discussion often yields regular bouts of introspection.

Just as regular testing helps students have a better understanding of the course matter they study, a regular insight into our own idiosyncrasies enables us to have a better perspective of where we stand in the grand scheme of things, and see where we need improvement. The end of the year, and gauging the totality of our own inner self at a time can probably be effectively compared to cramming for a test to produce haphazard results. Level-headed, mindful introspection is probably what will yield better results.

It thus becomes clear that we may feel overwhelmed looking at others around us making a decision to change. This New year, it is up to you to decide whether this period in time is the only one where you prefer taking a stand to improve yourself, or whether you prefer to take these important existential decisions all through the year.

An undergraduate in Psychology, Shantanu is an aspiring Educational Psychologist who will be pursuing his Master’s in 2018 at the Ohio State University. He is adept with psychometric and statistical research, and has honed his grasp over psychology through a 4 year undergraduate course in Liberal Education at FLAME University, Pune.