This December 31st I was more than ready to wave goodbye to 2017. I get the sense that many of us felt that way. From personal tragedies to political chaos, this past year was rough, to say the least. On New Year’s Eve as we toasted to 2018, I basked in the feeling of hopeful anticipation wondering what this new year might bring.
Like many of us I was looking forward to a fresh start and a new opportunity to live more intentionally. The end of the year marked the completion of some arduous tasks and responsibilities I’d had on my plate, and all through December I relished the thought of what life would look like come January 1st.
This thought pattern of mine, though certainly more pronounced around the new year, cycles through my brain all year long. I find myself saying, “When X responsibility is finished, I’ll have more time for Y activity that I enjoy.” But as it so happens, there’s always another X that gets in the way of Y. Because I let it.
I allow the stressful feeling of never having enough hours in the day to get things accomplished determine how I spend the time that I do have.
The fantasy of a magical day, month, or year–when life suddenly will slow down and I’ll finally be able to do that thing that I love to do but that I’ve been putting off–is never going to materialize. If I don’t want to be working all the time, I have to prioritize fun, leisure, and restoration alongside work and other responsibilities.
I know enough about the failure rates of New Year’s resolutions to avoid making them. Instead I’m trying some new rituals and guidelines for this year.
- Focused mornings. Begin the day with a brief ritual of journaling, goal setting, and meditation before heading to the gym. Avoid checking email for at least an hour after waking.
- Dedicated (and scheduled!) leisure time. Devote an hour each day to reading for enjoyment and learning. Put it on the calendar it like a meeting. Honor it.
- Single tasking. Do one activity at a time. If an idea comes up, write it down quickly and move back to the original task.
I’m sharing these publicly, in part because I hope others find them useful. But even more than that, I know that writing them down and telling others about them creates accountability for me.
These habits of mine–overworking, not taking time to rest, feeling like I need to be constantly productive–will be tough to leave behind. But I believe we all have the capacity to create positive change, beginning with our own lives.