Pity the poor month, January. It has such a Big Act to follow and so much that needs to be accomplished!
We’re now just two weeks past Christmas. Twelfth Night has gone, and the holiday decorations are either put away or in transit. The stacks of treats have dwindled; the refrigerator is emptying itself of eggnog. Calendars are being recycled, doctor’s appointments being scheduled, performance reviews due. In my office days, end-of-year recaps and summaries were routine, but we don’t tend to do them for ourselves. We should. Newspaper articles publish their end-of-year advice too soon, before New Year’s, when we’re still making merry. Now is when we should pay attention.
January has a useful function: take stock and clean house. If you’re reading this, odds are you’re a writer. If you’re a blogger, you know what to clean! Spruce up the website, try a new theme, or just take down pages that you know people don’t read. Remove those plug-ins that seemed important two years ago. Update your Bio. You can change at least a word, can’t you?
If you’re not a writer, there’s still stuff to do. Schedule the re-roofing. It might not be until April, but you can look at the calendar. Sweep out a few cobwebs while you’re putting away the ornaments. Update your resume; it’s easier to do a little every year than to let the changes pile up over a decade.
It’s January; channel your inner Janus. He was the God of Doors, which seems perfectly appropriate as we close the door on 2022 and open the door on 2023.
Janus: Look Back
Before starting something new, it’s good to look back on what you accomplished. Think you didn’t do much? I bet you’re wrong. Are you thinking that you got more into debt (duh! Inflation!) or gained weight or didn’t meet your 2022 New Year’s resolutions? F’ that noise! Of course you did a lot! How many dinners did you make for your family? How many times did you comfort a friend? Even dudes comfort friends, I know this for a fact! How many times did you share a joke, smile at somebody for no reason, or share a hug? Your stats are off the chart now!
We’re counting the wrong things, seems to me. You have a lot to be proud of from 2022. You’re still here, aren’t you, with all the stuff you went through! Good job! Pat on the back.
Janus: Look Forward
January looks forward into the future, which means it’s a good time to make goals. I don’t believe in resolutions, even though I wrote a blog about them before (here’s that advice). You’ve probably seen at least one story about how to make New Year’s resolutions that work because apparently most don’t.
The typical New Year’s resolutions often don’t work because they’re vague or have a hangover tinge to them. I’m going to exercise more. I’m going to straighten out my finances. I’m not going to eat quite so much cheese. Or they’re specific but difficult. I’m going to lose ten pounds. I’m going to get that promotion I want. All fine and good, but there are factors outside of your control. And being specific through the S-M-A-R-T goal process doesn’t make Doing the Thing any easier. I’m going to lose ten pounds by eating five servings of vegetables daily and not eating so much pie mmmm pie, I wonder where I can get some pie, just one last piece before I start this new regimen…
New Year’s resolutions have a tendency to choke you with penance. I say that as a non-Catholic who still knows all about penance and confession. Resolutions are your inside grown-up (or the cranky old man next door) trying to scold you for all the fun and frivolity and over-indulgence from that Saturnalia. We think of resolutions as Austerity (that’s what we even call January meal making in our house), but we should really think of it as balancing. We had a lot then, so for a while we’ll have less now. I’m not a big believer in resolutions; I’m a much bigger believer in Goals.
Goals are ever so much more more positive than resolutions. Take off the hair shirt and stop beating yourself for having a good time. Move on. But do move: do a Thing. Think about goals as making a little behavioral change, rather than obsessing over the results. Eat a higher percentage of vegetables. Review the budget… or create a budget if you don’t have one! Learn a new skill.
Goals are about starting the journey rather than focusing on the destination. Even if you don’t really know where you’re going, you do want to go somewhere. Goals are about finding a starting point. You might not end up where your goal suggested, but it doesn’t matter as long as you end up in a place that you enjoy.
Writers Be Writin’
One of my goals for 2023 is to write slightly shorter blogs a little more often. I stopped my weekly blogs when I went back to school because it was so bus-s-s-y! But the schoolwork ahead of me involves a lot of writing. And the one thing I have learned in seven years of blogging–that long? Wow!–is that if you want to write, you need to write. As much as possible.
If you want to write a novel, keep a journal. If you want to write how-to-manuals, write poetry. If you want to write a scholarly analysis of the intersection between finance and faith in the Middle Ages, write blogs. The more you write, the more you write.
My sub goal is to keep a few of these blogs under 1000 words, so this one just made it!