It’s getting close to that time when our minds turn to the new year and what shiny new habits or resolutions we will put in place.
Usually this involves thinking about all the things that we failed to do or were not quite as we planned this year, with a sense that we can somehow mitigate the damage by simply resolving to do better in January.
I’ve never really been one for new year’s resolutions. To me, a resolution feels more like a threat than a promise. I know that when I fail to keep them, as I inevitably will, it can too easily become a reason to beat myself up for lacking self discipline and motivation.
Then there's the fact that, in the Northern Hemisphere at least, January can be the darkest and most joyless of months. January plays host to Blue Monday, the ‘‘worst day of the year”. What kind of time is this to set unrealistic and unreasonable expectations? Let's face it, just getting to the end of January can feel like an achievement. January should be a time for cocooning and nourishing, for slowing down, being gentle and forgiving with ourselves.
I don’t know about you, but one of my overriding memories of 2020 is a constant jarring sense that I have been superimposed on a disaster film set, or maybe psychological thriller is more apt. Things that this time last year, would have been the stuff of science fiction, a vignette from our wildest and most unsettling dreams, became our reality. Should we abandon thoughts of planning for the future, switch to survival mode and ride out the storm? Or perhaps, when life is batshit crazy, we can find comfort in what we can control and embrace small ways to make a difference to our lives.
I am a glass half full person, I prefer to believe that nothing is impossible or inevitable. We are not all doomed and big unsettling change is an opportunity for positivity and reset, finding new ways to do things and looking after ourselves and those around us.
I’ve recently been listening to the audiobook of Wintering by Katherine May. First published in February this year, the book was written well before any of us knew that a global pandemic was coming down the track. But, as we head into potentially the darkest and longest winter of all, I’m finding comfort in May’s writing. In Wintering, How I learned to flourish when life was frozen, she explores what a particularly painful period in her life taught her about the power of embracing life's fallow times, to bring restoration and healing. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for both inspiration and succour to get through the next few months.
None of us knows what 2021 will bring but I do know that 2020 has prepared us to expect the unexpected. I won’t make resolutions, but I’ll still take time to reflect on this past year, what I have learned and how I can use that to better prepare myself for whatever 2021 and beyond might throw my way. I’ll be thinking about small, humble investments I can make in myself and for myself. I’ll stay grounded and embrace what I already have, instead of striving for what’s out of reach just now. Humble investments are not about pursuing unattainable perfection or productivity, because that way lies failure.
This year especially, we could all do with a bit more winning at life.
By Melissa McConnell