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It’s the start of another year, and everywhere you turn people are setting resolutions or intentions, choosing their word for the year, or creating 90-day plans.
And all of that is lovely and wonderful! In fact, I’m attending two virtual meditation and intention setting sessions later today. #recoveringoverachiever
But for many of us, there’s no magic about January 1st—or even the few days that follow.
I don’t know about you but, especially this new year, all I really feel is tired. My energy has turned inward, and there’s a deep need for quiet and calm.
Not to say I don’t have big dreams for the year—I absolutely do! And I’m committed to working toward them. I just want to also make sure everyone knows that there is nothing wrong with you if you don’t feel like doing a single thing differently right now.
And here’s two main reasons why:
1. We are part of a world that is lurching from crisis to crisis.
Let’s address the biggest elephant in the room first: we’re coming up on the second anniversary of a global pandemic. By now, I don’t think there’s a single one of us who has not been affected by COVID-19 in some way or the other. We probably all know someone who got sick, who has a hospital horror story, or sadly, who’s passed away.
We tend to underestimate the impact that living everyday life in the midst of such fear and uncertainty and grief has on our physical, mental, and emotional selves.
Yes, by now, most of us are wearing masks instinctively, sanitizers are faithfully carried everywhere, and being around people almost demands a recovery period. But those are the outward behaviors and habits. What about all the adjustments we’ve had to make on an emotional level? What about the huggers who are feeling starved of touch? What about little kids who now have social anxiety because they haven’t seen new people in over a year? What about people staying in jobs they hate because they need the security now more than ever?
Last March, the first-year mark hit me really hard. You know the saying, “Fill your cup; you can’t pour from an empty one”? Well, my cup wasn’t empty, but I could see the bottom. And that scared me, because no matter what I did to fill myself up, I felt like my reserves weren’t getting replenished the way they normally would have.
So, I’ve walked around for half a year feeling like I was one mini crisis away from a complete meltdown, and I had no way of helping myself. All that the tools in my emotional toolkit were doing was making it possible for me to get through the day more or less in one piece.
And then it hit me. Getting through the day, more or less in one piece, was an achievement for this period in my life. And once I surrendered to that truth and managed my expectations, things got a lot easier.
It’s adjustments like these that we’ve had to make so many times over the last 20-odd months that are insidiously draining. No wonder we’re meeting the new year with a jaundiced eye.
2. We might, literally and figuratively, be in the season of winter.
The other thing we don’t think about is that, for a lot of us, we’re in the middle of winter. Even if it isn’t cold where you are, if it’s “winter,” this is naturally a time to slow down and hibernate.
As I learned from the work of the brilliant Kate Northrup, winter is a time for reflection and pausing. So naturally, taking massive action on January 1st can feel completely counterintuitive to a lot of us. Even if we have good intentions, our energy just doesn’t match up with the seasonal energy around us, and we find we’re unable to stick with our new plans, meaning we then proceed to beat ourselves up.
What if there is nothing wrong with us? What if it really just isn’t the right time to start something new?
This mindset isn’t about shedding personal responsibility for our lives or allowing life to happen as we watch passively. This is about first recognising the things that are true for each of us right now, in this season of our lives, and then accepting those truths—instead of railing against them. It’s about realizing that it’s okay for now to be a time of quietude and reflection, a time to lie fallow so that seeds we plant later can blossom.
Maybe it’s okay to reflect on what we want for the new year and set our intentions. As long as we know, and sink fully into the knowing, that we might start taking action on those intentions just a little bit later.
Wherever you are on the feelings-about-new-year spectrum, know that it’s okay—you’re exactly where you need to be.
Here are three easy ways to gain more clarity and tune in to what you really want (and need) this time of year:
>> Journal. Write about everything you’re feeling right now. Vent about all the thoughts that might be swirling through your mind. Express all the things you have never been able to say out loud. The more you can journal and then review your writing, no matter how rambling, the more clarity you’ll begin to build.
>> Take care of yourself. If you need some quiet time, go ahead and give it to yourself—guilt-free. Trust yourself to find what you need right now. Doing this can be incredibly liberating!
>> Build your awareness muscle. The more you can be aware of what’s really going on for you in the present moment, the easier it becomes to recognize when things change, and then you’re actually ready to take action.
Even when all you feel is tired, know that your dreams are still glowing inside you, like embers ready to burst into flames as soon as you’re ready to blow on them.