Here we go… again! It’s a new year with those pesky resolutions that we all hope to follow through with… this time! Can you feel the calm in the image below? That’s probably how you want your life to be at this very moment, right? Calm. Well… keep reading…
During these winter days of ice and clouds and snow showers, looking ahead to possible projects is helpful to get through such cloudy days— both in weather and in physical or emotional clutter.
Create something to look forward to.
Really, when it comes down to it, we can all have goals for the entire year already planned. If the horrible 2020 taught me anything, it was that the “why wait?” question should be “why EVER wait?” As we are all still in this health-protocol-era-of-time, we absolutely have to figure out feasible ways to keep anxiety, depression and lingering isolation to a minimum without exposing ourselves to risky situations. While I am still working with a few clients in safe environments, like many people, I have also chosen to work on home or personal projects during the coldest winter days and outdoor labor, exercise and/or relaxation in nature on the warmer days.
I actually decided to get a jumpstart on my own goals and started one of them on Christmas Day, which was to start a venture on becoming a pescatarian. Already, I have had three successful weeks of enjoying new vegetable recipes with occasional seafood dishes. I then took a look around my house and for the bathroom and kitchen, I decided that we were in need of two new bath towels, a new shower curtain with new rings and two new bottle brushes— because sometimes, the simplest items can significantly increase the quality of life. I can easily state this as truth because ever since our new shower curtain on its new rings was hung, my frustration and anxiety of trying to open and close the curtain has slipped from a top ten down to an absolute zero— and my husband no longer has to hear me cursing. Speaking of husbands, my husband and I recently enjoyed going through all of our recipe binders, weeding out recipes we weren’t too fond of and replacing them with new, exciting ones to experiment with.
Create the calm… before the chaos tries to hit.
Meanwhile, I am currently organizing documents for tax filing and have studied my calendar for late January into early February to make appointments with myself to finish painting the other half of my office as soon as possible because I am already so pleased with how the first half worked out so nicely. (The main reasons that I didn’t finish the entire room was due to fatigue and a pinched nerve in my back from which I desperately needed to recover.) Might I now mention that making appointments with yourself can be the key for reaching certain goals. If you also study your calendar, you might also be able to carve out time to dedicate to yourself and take advantage of making improvements or adjusting to a new habit.
Speaking of calm and habit… get out in nature! Either just to feel the sense of calm that is naturally provided in a forest, a meadow or near a water site, it is scientifically proven that being out in nature can help lift spirits and improve heath, both physically and mentally. Also, for a lot of people, gardening projects are always a delight to look forward to. Personally, I planned ahead for these gloomy moments by signing up for multiple plant, seed and supply catalogs from various gardening companies back in late October. Sitting upstairs in my new arm chair now placed in our cozy snug, (another goal that I absolutely fought for before the new year actually hit,) I can enjoy page after page of colorful flowers, herbs and vegetables to plan out my spring and summer months under the sun. Humans need to have something to look forward to— always.
Create the fresh start.
A new year does mean a fresh start. It’s an appropriate time to not only start to work toward new ideas, but to also think deeply about what was learned in the past and how to improve for the future. There are some worksheet exercises that I like to use for clients, as well as for myself. For myself, I tend to shoot for using them every six months because situations and emotions can sometimes change significantly enough that you can see it on paper to know what has improved or deteriorated. Worksheets don’t always work for everyone, but they don’t hurt to try either. If you were to do a search, the first two worksheets below are also often referred to as the Balance Wheel of Life.
The first worksheet that I use is this one-page PDF: Wheel of Life Assessment Tool
Here is another PDF worksheet referred to as the Wheel of Life Inventory, which is three pages long.
Do you like Post-It Notes?
Here’s an exercise that is not actually a worksheet, but still uses paper. Since I first heard of and used this activity years ago, I have found that it can also be helpful and is particularly insightful with a group of people. Referred to as a Life Audit, this activity can be restructured to simply include one person, yourself, by using this three-page worksheet: Life Audit Worksheet –without sticky notes!
A new year is a good time to think about yourself— partly, because we should all think about our own being from time to time, but also because the better we feel, the better we are able to interact with and help others. If you have any opportunities away from obligations to family members and/or are able to give yourself mental health days from work, have long weekends or even just a few hours per week, take advantage of those moments. Those moments are what I refer to as “cushions”. Cushions are soft, calm moments in which you can recharge your mind, your body and your surroundings.
Whatever the case may be for you in 2021, perhaps the key words and phrases that you might try to keep in mind are the following…
- why EVER wait?
- create the calm
- making appointments with yourself
- something to look forward to
- balance wheels & life audits
Incidentally, if one of the 2021 goals you were hoping to reach happens to be about starting a healthier, greener lifestyle, I just happen to be giving a live presentation tonight (Wednesday, January 13th,) called “Greenganize” at the Boardman Road Branch of the Poughkeepsie Public Library at 7pm. You can go to their website to register as it is a limited seating event following strict health & safety restrictions. If you happen to miss this live event, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a PDF of the material that will be covered. GREENGANIZE!” (official GC term) : This program focuses on the growing interest in going green, or at least adopting a few healthy habits in helping out the environment with natural methods of cleaning and organizing.