Ah, January. New beginnings, a chance to slam the door in the face of the previous year and all its baggage and to start afresh. New year, new me and all that jazz. But is it a new me? Is it a fresh start?
We seem to be obsessed with new beginnings, whether it’s that #mondaymorningfeeling, celebrating another paycheck at the end of the month and a new chance to be more responsible with our money (ha!) and, of course, the mother of all new beginnings, January.
We all know January is a long, hard slog. You’re carrying around that December hangover, are most likely broke from going a bit too crazy over the Christmas period and God, why are you feeling so exhausted? Aren’t holidays supposed to be relaxing?
Anyway, you’ve painstakingly managed to drag yourself back to reality when the questions start coming: ‘So, what are your new year’s resolutions?’
Now I have never dabbled with new year’s resolutions as I believe there’s a time and a place for everything, and when it comes to embarking on a journey of self-betterment, I really don’t think January is the time (peek reasons why just above).
That being said, every single January I feel that I need to make a change. I would go as far as to say that I think that by this point, we’ve been conditioned to feel that way. And for me it kind of feels like I’m having to keep up with someone else’s marathon, even though I hate running. In short, every January I end up feeling pretty terrible.
It’s not just the fact that we’re collectively being bullied into this new year’s resolutions thing that is putting me down, however. It’s the overwhelming amount of possibilities that come with new beginnings, and the fact that I’m not really sure what I should be doing in the first place, even though I feel like I really should be doing something.
My resolution to my January dilemmas came when I was doing research for an article for work, and I came across this article about setting career goals which quoted Amy Poehler (comedian, you might know her from the wonderful Parks & Recreation). And Amy’s advice was that if you want to be successful in your career, you need to stop setting unrealistic goals for yourself based on what you think you should be doing, and instead start investing time in the things you love outside of work. Ultimately this will help you find your way in your career.
This idea can very easily be lifted away from its career context and be applied to goal setting in general: focus on what you want to be doing, not what you think you should be doing. On first glances, it seems like an obvious concept, and you may even think that that’s what you have been doing in the first place. I definitely thought so. But when I reflected on my way of thinking I realised that my focus had been: ‘What can I do to improve?’ ‘What should I really start doing this year to have a better chance at [xyz]?’ instead of ‘Which things do I want to do more of this year?’, ‘What interests do I want to explore further?’, ‘Which new things do I really want to try?’
Once I got that into my head, it all clicked. I know for a fact that doing things out of some sense of obligation, whether to yourself or others, hardly makes you happy, and it’s much harder to put energy into something you don’t love than something you have a genuine passion for.
So, my plan for 2019: read more books, see more films, write more, travel more, learn about history, go to interesting places and spend time with people that inspire me. The list goes on. Thanks, Amy.