Conventional wisdom holds that January is the perfect time to start fresh, set new goals, and begin new projects. New year, new you — right? Wrong! Even though it’s at the beginning of a new calendar year, January is one of the worst times to start anything.
For The Love of January
Have you noticed how many people on socials are complaining about being exhausted come week three of the new year? The month seems to drag on and on with no end in sight. There’s a reason for that and it can be summed up easily: we’re doing January all wrong.
January is a long month, one of the longest in fact. But if done properly, that length can work for you instead of exhausting you!
The 5 Rs of Winter
Though it is the beginning of the year, January is still in the middle of winter. Very few things in nature are producing new things in winter. Winter is a time of dormancy. Don’t believe me, ask the trees. Seasons happen for a reason and since most of us are just coming off the harvest and holiday season, this season is the one for The 5 Rs.
The 5 Rs of Winter are: Relax, Review, Release, Reconnect, and Refocus. Let’s get into each of them.
If you listen to the culture, we should all be raring to go on January 1. I find that to be a ludicrous concept. After a jam-packed holiday season with all its stress and hullabaloo, we’ve hardly had a moment to catch our collective or individual breath. And already we’re supposed to be planning big things and tackling life’s greatest challenges?! Give it a rest already. Literally.
For those of us who live with the seasons, winter is the worst time to start something new. Taking our cues from nature means winter is a season to slow down. Everything is laying low, living off the harvest from the season before, and gestating what will bloom in the spring. We have to give ourselves the chance to rest.
Every season is not meant to be one of high production or productivity. This is what leads to burnout and is why January always feels like the longest month of the year.
Remember: Taking time to rest and reset is equally important as planning and productivity. Never let yourself be convinced otherwise.
I know a lot of people do year-end reviews in the final weeks of the year. They do so with an eye toward being ‘ready to go’ come January 1. Again I say, bad idea. I do reviews when the year is actually over because as they say, it ain’t over til it’s over.
However, with the previous year completely wrapped, January is the perfect time to review what worked, what went well, and what areas of life need more attention or more time. Use January to look inward at what has happened, so you can make clear decisions about what comes next.
After the review, decide what things you can let go of. Ask yourself what situations, people, or ideas can be left in the past? Make a point to not drag those things into your future if they no longer serve you.
I strongly encourage you to be ruthless with this edit. Sometimes we think our life isn’t working smoothly because we’re missing something but oftentimes, it’s really that we need to release a few things instead.
Our holiday season is often overrun with ‘doing for others.’ We spend lots of time and resources thinking about family, friends, and work during the last couple of months of the year and we often get lost inside our own lives. Take this time to be still, recenter yourself, and get in touch with how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, and what you need in this moment.
With clarity about the past, awareness of your needs in the present moment, and certainty about what you want going forward, you can finally set some goals and make plans for your new year ahead.
Think about your long-term and short-term goals. Decide how you want to feel each day, what experiences you want to have. Then figure out how you need to spend each day to have those experiences and reach those goals.
TL;DR: You don’t have to be in such a hurry to ‘get going’ come January 1. Use this long month to take care of yourself, rest, and reset. That way, come spring, you’ll be ready to bloom along with the rest of nature.