New Year, New You? Not Exactly.

by Alli Polin on January 2, 2018

Every time the new year swings around, most of us load up on resolutions and promises designed to ensure that this year will be different than the last. We’ll be healthier, happier and more successful than ever. Boo on last year bring on the new year, new you!


Before you go leaping into the new year with a zest for all you want to change, what about all the things that are pretty great? The things you want to sustain not to mention the good things and deeds you need to acknowledge?

I’m a big believer in fresh starts, but our lives are not whiteboards. We don’t get to spritz on a little cleaner, erase everything and start again. You’re building from where you are. 

You, and your life, are more like decoupage. 


If you’re wondering what the heck decoupage is, Wikipedia has a good description:

“Commonly, an object like a small box or an item of furniture is covered by cutouts from magazines or from purpose-manufactured papers. Each layer is sealed with varnishes (often multiple coats) until the “stuck on” appearance disappears and the result looks like painting or inlay work. The traditional technique used 30 to 40 layers of varnish which were then sanded to a polished finish.”

5 Ways to Decoupage Your Life and Leadership

Add Layers on Purpose. 

Be thoughtful with what you choose to add to your life. You don’t need to cover up everything at once. It’s essential to work bit by bit to get to the next phase, not go bonkers working on 10 areas at once.

Love Your Layers for Each One Adds Beauty. 

You don’t need to strip away the past, but instead, add to the future. With decoupage, you don’t tear away the old and toss it in the bin to start again. You have done and lived through a lot to get here. Appreciate where you are now before doubling down on the 147 things you want to change. 

There Is No Stopping Point to the Layers.

Wikipedia tells us that the traditional technique takes 30 – 40 layers. Your life? I hope it’s closer to 100+. When you make intentional changes, you shift and change. It’s ongoing day after day, week after week, and year after year. Every layer adds new depth to who you already are and who you are becoming.

You Are Unfinished, and That’s a Good Thing. 

Resolutions are often goal focused. I will lose 40 pounds, go to the gym six days a week, write my novel, get a new job and move to a new house. With decoupage, every move is about making progress, not finishing. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it ALL done now. Keep moving forward and making positive changes on purpose. 


Whatever You Do, It Adds to Your Uniqueness. 

With goals and resolutions, there’s often a sense of I did it or I didn’t. We don’t accept gray areas. Instead of pass/fail, acknowledge each step. After all, it’s not your resolution that creates change, it’s taking action one step at a time. 

Instead of New Year, New You, think about what’s next in the context of where you’ve been and where you’re going. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said so wisely, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

Wishing you a happy, healthy and decoupage filled year ahead!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ January 2, 2018 at 8:37 am

Hi Alli,
Great post to start the New Year. I LOVE your statement “Your life is more like decoupage than a whiteboard. Changes add depth.” That one truth can break people’s fear and procrastination. WOW.

I have evolved my life like decoupage … bits and pieces … not a whiteboard.

You are off to another transformative year of coaching!

Happy New Year,


Alli Polin January 2, 2018 at 11:16 pm

I think you’re right, Kate. There is a lot of fear. Fear of falling short and fear of success and then, well, what then?

Bits and pieces added with focus and intention create transformation.

Thanks so much, Kate!



Terri Klass January 2, 2018 at 9:17 am

Love your post Alli! You are so right that we are continually growing and learning. It is so important that we enjoy the journey because often it is non-linear and takes us to places we never thought of exploring. For me it is key to keep an open mind and not assume I have tried a certain direction before. With each of my presentations I continue to do research and add new perspectives. It also helps keep my fresh.

Thanks Alli and happy 2018!


Alli Polin January 2, 2018 at 11:17 pm

Love that even when you have a presentation that’s strong and works well, you revisit and update. You’re always learning and growing and bringing more to your audience as a result. Often, we don’t need to start from scratch to make a meaningful shift.

Happy New Year, Terri!



Lori A. King January 2, 2018 at 2:58 pm

Happy New Year, Alli!
What got me to open your full article was “focus on your evolution”. Love that. I am not a big resolution person but I love the fresh start aspect of the new year. As I intentionally let go of things that are no longer serving me, I like this idea of: “Add layers on purpose”. I embrace the changes from last year and look forward to the beauty that will unfold as more layers are added.
Thanks for sharing your perspective.


Alli Polin January 2, 2018 at 11:14 pm

Thanks, Lori! Happy New Year! It really is more about creating an evolution than a revolution. Changes don’t have to negate our past to have an impact. I’m looking forward to a year of change that brings me closer to a heart at peace more often. Each layer I add unfolds more of the story. Like you, I’m not a big resolution person either.

Here’s to the evolution!



LaRae Quy January 3, 2018 at 1:05 am

I LOVE the decoupage metaphor! This is amazing wisdom: “You don’t need to strip away the past, but instead, add to the future. With decoupage, you don’t tear away the old and toss it in the bin to start again. You have done and lived through a lot to get here. Appreciate where you are now before doubling down on the 147 things you want to change.” We need to learn from our past…as painful as it sometimes can be, it is the smartest way to move forward. We don’t want to make the same mistakes….


Alli Polin January 4, 2018 at 5:39 am

Thanks, LaRae. I’m with you. Our past is not a source of shame but one of learning. It’s also not the end of the road no matter how high our highs or how low our lows.

Thanks for your insight here!



John Bennett January 4, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Totally agree with your thoughts on resolutions which are goals – to be met (completed in 2018 this time). They totally ignore progress with outcomes being either success or failure. Sadly that means the resolutions need to take less than 12 months to complete which means probably little learning, little new, little creative – AND MOST ARE STILL NOT COMPLETED!!! Wonder how many fail because don’t consider these constraints?

As I’ve likely noted previously, I’m really impressed by the message of the book, “Full Steam Ahead” by Blanchard and Stoner. The writing about visions makes such good sense to me!!!

As I continue to Consider the messages more and more deeply, we are hearing and reading about Resolutions. Visions ala FSA are not completion oriented but progress oriented. These visions (personal, group, organizations provide the intrinsic motivation to take on efforts that lead to the progress – with those efforts not needing an end; but if they do, advancing the vision takes the vision off ‘end’ onto progress!!!

Great post as always!!!


Alli Polin January 7, 2018 at 11:37 pm

Happy New Year, John!

First off, it’s clearly time I read Full Steam Ahead! Having a vision ensures we’re moving with purpose and not floating out in the middle of the ocean hoping for the best. I love the emphasis on progress vs completion orientation. That’s what life and leadership are truly about.



John Bennett January 7, 2018 at 11:50 pm

I do not believe I’ve overvalued “Full Steam Ahead” and will be anxious to see what you think. They use a fictitious insurance agency as the example – with, for me at least, no loss to believability of the importance of vision as developed / defined in the book!!! Jesse Lyn Stoner has begun to identify real organizations taking the approach.

Needless to say, I so value the book – as I have “Seven Habits of Highly Successful People,” “Drive,” “Group Genius,” “Innovators Mindset,” – to name just four of many others.


Lucille Fisher January 5, 2018 at 11:06 am

Beautiful post Alli. It is especially poignant for the perfectionist in many of us. I just had a conversation about new year’s resolutions with my 26 year old daughter who was distressed that she didn’t have any. Distressed by the expectation. She is in a great place right now – Life is good. Your post speaks right to the unrealistic expectation in resolutions. Life is a journey. Kudos to you for writing this compassionate piece.


Alli Polin January 7, 2018 at 11:35 pm


Your feedback means so much. I can feel your daughter’s distress. We put so much pressure on ourselves this time of year in the name of transformation but forget we’re always in the process of our own personal evolution. Love that life is good for her – she’s allowed to be happy right where she is instead of wishing things were different.




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