We’re all feeling it – the first proper week back at work and a whole blank, beautiful year to create everything we’ve ever wanted from life.
So many dreams, goals, possibilities. Too many, in fact. And after spending a couple of days driving myself crazy, I was starting to feel out of my depth.
January overwhelm hurts.
I stopped in my tracks and decided to adopt a kinder approach to starting 2019. Instead of a full-throttle hurtle, I’ve switched to a gentle easing into the year.
I’m reframing January, from the month when all intentions for the coming year must be made (and often get broken), to the month when I clear the way to work out what those intentions are going to be.
SPACE TO SEE
I always find January a difficult month, a time of scarcity after the glorious excesses of December. Winter has already stripped nature of her colour, and now the new year has stripped my home of its Christmas opulence.
But there’s a plus to all of this bareness. I have the most amazing view from the windows of my new home. This is our first winter here and I’ve noticed that I can actually see the sea at this time of year. When the trees leading down to Maenporth are in leaf, they completely block the view. But right now, in its gaping, naked dormancy, January is giving me glimpses of the horizon. How poetic is that?
It’s helping me to reframe January as a time when I’m given some space to see what’s on the horizon, or at least work out what I want to see there.
December always seems to build me up – with all its flashy tinsel and twinkly lights – to a state of tipsy consumerism. Emboldened by the glitz and Christmas cheer, I can’t help but overdo it on the spending front. And that’s normal, I guess. December is a time of year for celebrating life, for generosity, for pleasure and for fun.
But all of that merriness skews my values and budget to a huge degree. December would never make a good financial advisor. It takes January, with all her penny pinching, empty bank balances, and (the final kick in the teeth) looming tax-return deadline, to reset my financial senses.
Whether it’s spending, socialising, alcohol or food, I always feel the need to curb it all in January before I end up bankrupt or obese.
And that’s a good thing. January might be a killjoy but god I need her. She pours freezing cold water into the too-hot bath of December, so that I can enjoy just the right temperature in the months to come.
GENTLE STARTS AND FINISHES
So with my new, more sympathetic, view of January to guide me, I’m going to use her as a buffer zone between last year and the year to come. A kind of waiting room where I can pause, breathe, reset, prepare.
I used to always, always, make a new year’s resolution – a stringent oath to exercise every day or get up half an hour earlier or cut out this or that thing that I feel I shouldn’t be consuming.
The intention was grounded in the desire to live a better year than the last. But the action of setting a stringent condition upon which to measure that improvement wasn’t a kind one. It always came from a place of dissatisfaction with some aspect of myself or my life.
If my resolutions had a voice, they’d sound sneery and scathing.
So I make no resolutions this year. There’ll be no shoulds or won’ts to tie myself up in knots over.
There will be things I stop doing in 2019 and things I start doing, but they’ll happen organically and intentionally. Not because I made some desperate, hungover plea on 1st January.
BUILD THE FOUNDATIONS
2018 was the first full year of this blog. And I’ll admit I spent a lot of it treasure chasing. Attracted to all the shiny bits, I took courses in photography, Instagram tactics and marketing, without knowing why I was doing all of the things other people were telling me to do.
I kept looking outside myself for the answers without having asked myself the fundamental question – what do I want to this thing I’m working so hard on to be?
A strong building needs good foundations. January is going to be my foundation month – a time to work out the size and scale of what I’m looking to build and to put something sturdy and supportive in place upon which to start construction.
And making sure everything is strong enough at the base first.
So far, this is involving quite a lot of work on mindset – reframing past beliefs and building up confidence and resilience. It’s likely why I find myself lying awake at 3am having epiphany after epiphany.
If you’d like to know what and who I’ve been reading I’d point you to Tara Mohr, Ray Dodd and Jen Carrington for a start. The common theme with each of these three wise women is their loving insistence that the answers are all within us. They always have been. It’s just that we’re conditioned by school and society to ignore our own voices and defer to someone (anyone) who we perceive as being more knowledgeable, more experienced, more insightful than ourselves.
I am a compulsive researcher. If I have a problem I will always buy a book, many books, to find the answers. But no one has yet written a book telling me what I really want out of life. That’s for me to write.
A GENTLE JANUARY
In short, this January is going to be a gentle one for me. One of enjoying the space to reflect and listen. Already I feel calmer and more open to the future.
What about you? Are you going full steam ahead or taking a gentler path this month?