Whether you love or hate January, it’s probably the one marmite month of the year that either gets you motivated or just leaves you feeling a little bit blah. With Christmas itself starting to feel like a distant memory but with the results of our over indulgence still making us feel the pinch, January can feel like a mixed blessing. A month to reset the clock or simply to survive!
We even have ‘Blue Monday’ in January, labelled the most depressing day of the year, based on the formula of weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing our New Year’s resolutions and low motivation levels! No wonder it leaves so many of us feeling a little bit flat!
Whilst I always enjoy the Christmas period, as is a time to spend with family and relax, I also really look forward to getting back into a routine in the New Year. Being one of the quietest months of the year for me is also an opportunity to plan for the year ahead, work out what I want to achieve and how I’m going to make it happen.
However, there have been days when I’ve found my motivation has wained and my energy levels have dropped. In the past, I would have reacted to that with a sense of guilt because let’s face it, January is possibly the one month of the year we also put the most pressure on ourselves to be firing on all cylinders, with a can do attitude at all times.
I have learnt over time though to approach the new year with a sense of realism. I’m no longer so hard on myself if I don’t get Rome built that day and I acknowledge that the feeling will pass. A bad day after all does not equal a bad life!
All that said, I know it’s easy to feel a little lack lustre at this time of year, so here’s how I’m keeping myself on track this January to give me the best start to the year possible!
When you think about it, our understanding of time is that really it’s just one day that follows another. We are taught that it’s a linear line that we walk down from the moment we’re born to the moment we die. However, by dividing time up into days, months and years, we create structure and routine and give time a sense of meaning. The same can be said of a New Year. Each new year brings with it the possibility to start again with a blank page. If we’ve had a bad year the year before, we can draw a mental line under it, write it off and begin again with a fresh sense of purpose and clarity about what it is we want to achieve.
For me, having a plan and setting myself some mental goals keeps my life feeling purposeful and helps me focus. Like many others I’m sure, I have in the past written a list of ideas of what I want to achieve but without really thinking through how I’m going to achieve it! It’s all very well having a grand plan, but if you don’t put some actual planning into how you’re going to make it happen, then you’re simply ‘planning’ to fail…
This year, I’m taking a different approach. The first thing I ordered for 2018 was a wall planner for the office. I have always kept a diary for events and work but there is something about the idea of seeing my year on the wall in front of me that helps organise my thoughts when it comes to planning. At a glance, I can see when I have appointments, when I have client bookings and when I need to accomplish certain tasks. Hard to believe such a simple change can make such a difference!
I am also breaking my year’s plan into daily, weekly and monthly goals. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t actually written a year’s worth of daily and weekly goals down on paper but I am revamping how I use my time and breaking the week up into certain ‘doing’ days, whether that be marketing, editing, writing or photographing. I have also incorporated a routine of when I’ll go to a gym class or get on top of the housework.
Of course, we can’t always stick to the plan, because external influences beyond our control, can sometimes cause us to change our plans, at least for that day or week, but by having a structure and making it part of our daily routine, we stand much more chance of realising our goals.
Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life
Plans are great to have, but it’s easy to get thrown off course when you begin the year filled with optimism about what you’re setting out to achieve and then you don’t quite get the results you were hoping for. Having knock backs is an inevitable part of life but how we deal with them will determine whether we get up and start again or whether we simply throw in the towel. The only difference between the two is simply how we think about that situation. Your thoughts create your reality, be it good or bad and they influence everything you say, feel and do.
Thomas Edison was once famously asked how it felt to have failed so many times to invent the lightbulb, to which he replied “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Imagine if Thomas Edison had given up at 9,999? The lightbulb may never have been invented! His searing determination to make it work, eventually led him to success. So, if something isn’t working then we simply need to find another way and move forward with a positive mindset, because ultimately we never know how close we might be to making it work!
A book that has had a huge impact on me recently is a book called ‘Mind Power – Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life’. The book shows you how to take control of your thoughts, helps you to achieve your goals, channel and control stress, anxiety and anger, as well as helping you feel positive and energised. It has really helped me reduce any negative chatter from my mind and helped keep me with a positive mindset. If you really think about it, our life is ultimately created by how we think. The decisions we make are based on our thoughts, how we express ourselves, how we view things. It all comes from thought. If we can convert any negative thinking patterns into more positive ones then we open the doors to creating happier and more harmonious lives for ourselves.
Spend Time on You
Life can feel pretty crazy sometimes, especially if you have children and often there’s hardly any time left in the day for you to just unwind and take time out. However, as I’ve said many times before, if you’re happy, then chances are, you’ll be experiencing better relationships with those around you. So if you’ve had a particularly hard week, then put yourself first for a change and do something that makes you happy. That might be as simple as taking time to read your favourite book, have a bath, go shopping (child free!), or indulging in your favourite hobby.
If you have young children or a challenging career, it’s easy to get swept up in throwing all your energy into work or parenting, but sometimes no matter how resilient a person you are, it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you don’t take time out for down time, seeing friends and relaxation. If you can, plan a weekend away somewhere or a holiday. Not only will it be something to look forward to but it’s likely to be just what you need to recharge your batteries!
Spend Time With People Who Energise You
One amazing way to banish the winter blues is by spending time with people who make you feel good. Being around positive energy is fairly contagious and there’s nothing like spending a few hours with a great friend, who always makes you laugh, to bring your mood up! Every January, I attend the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers (SWPP) Convention for a weekend. It’s an opportunity to meet up with other photographer friends, who I may not have seen all year, along with attending a trade show to see what’s new in the world of photography. It’s so motivating and inspiring to mix with other creatives and I always leave feeling full of ideas and enthusiasm and often new friends are made too.
Being around people that inspire you to be a better person can really have an impact on your life and well-being. We’ve all heard of the kid at school who turned their life around, because of one amazing teacher, or the adult that attributes their success to their mentor or the new boss who turned a demotivated team into a high performing one simply by taking a different approach.
Spending too much time with negative people will only make you feel worse and certainly won’t help you kick the blues. Instead, spend time with people who have your best interests at heart and who look out for your wellbeing rather than trying to destroy it. It will go along way to giving you comfort when you’re feeling low!
Have a Great Year!
The biggest thing I am learning to do as another new year opens its doors, is not to put too much pressure on myself to do and be everything. I want to enjoy the journey, the new friendships I am making, the laughs with old friends, the time with my family and the new opportunities that will come my way. These are my hopes for the year ahead. If you take life one day at a time, it doesn’t seem so daunting. Oh and once you’ve kicked those blues, never ever be afraid to unleash your inner awesomeness on the world, because you just never know who you’ll be inspiring! 🙂