Greetings, citizens! In case you haven’t noticed, 2020 has arrived. And in less than 13 hours too. Brace yourselves!
I’ve always dreaded New Years, for a few different reasons. One, it brings upon my least favorite months of the year (thanks, January and February), and two, I always get a sense of panic, twinges of regret, and an inescapable dread of the “what ifs.” It’s hard not to feel increasingly older as the years whiz by, but then it’s also difficult not to think about the previous 52 weeks, wondering if I used them to their fullest potential, and pondering couldashouldawoulda. Did I spend enough time with my family? Do my friends feel like their needs were met? Why didn’t I take my dog for more hikes up in the mountains?
As the patterns repeats itself year after year, I have finally begun to piece together that I just really, really like my routine. When my habits are intact, it’s smooth sailing and no worries, but as soon as I hit a transition chapter in life, it all goes to pot (temporarily).
All that being said, here’s some suggestions for transitioning smoothly into a new year (what a weird thing that we’ve actually arrived at 2020!).
- Reflect – Perhaps one of my favorite activities is simply thinking. I’ve written about it time and time again, but the ability (yes, it’s a skill) to simply exist while dwelling, mentally gnawing, digesting, even, on life and its many complicated and intricate facets is one that seems to be undervalued and deprioritized all too often. I’m very fortunate that I am able to think at various points throughout my week. My triathlon labors allow for plenty of thinking time whether in the pool, on the trainer while grinding the legs, or while out for a run in the nippy, winter air. It’s nice not being interrupted every 15 seconds by emails and text messages and whatever else. It’s good to find your “me time.” While it may feel selfish, it actually isn’t. Not getting that reflection in will actually just cause damage and grief in the long run. Find a way to make it happen :-) Take time to think back on the good, the bad, some of the ugly, and definitely the fantastic. Think about where you were on January 1st and where you ended up on December 31st. And most important of all, make sure to send yourself a meeting invitation to do this reflection every year at the same time: habits.
- Acknowledge – After you spend all of that high quality time reflecting, you will want to spend time acknowledging what the year entailed. It was probably tough, maybe brutally challenging, but there were likely some huge victories and maybe more than a few sunny days. Where I continually fall short is in journaling. I used to take the time two or three days a week to sit down, scribble out some thoughts, and get ink to paper with my perspectives, my struggles, and successes. That will be a 2020 item to adjust (since I’ve already acknowledged it). I find it helpful to make a list of wins and struggles, but do so throughout the year whether with other posts, or even just keeping tabs on vacation photos and feelings about my races. It all adds up.
- Mourn – I have yet to have a year where I haven’t had struggles, some really low moments, and events or interactions that just leave a sour taste for days or weeks at a time. It happens – it’s called life – but that certainly doesn’t make it easier. I do, however, think that there is much to be said for acknowledging the crappy times. The silver lining of going through trials is that you are bound to learn from and improve upon yourself because of them. We tend to be very self-centered and egotistical creatures, and often dwell on how a situation impacts us. We have a very hard time playing the long game and having an infinite perspective, but I would encourage you to keep the end in mind. This too shall pass…
- Celebrate– Just as I have never had a year without hard times, I also have not had a year without tons to celebrate. Success on the triathlon circuit, running a 10k with my kiddo, going on vacation to San Diego, being in a friend’s wedding – 2019 was chock full of awesomeness! It’s very easy for me to forget the celebrations when I’m stuck in the mire and muck of trials, but sometimes we need a fresh perspective on how much we are blessed with. Hint: we’re blessed with a lot!
- Plan – Perhaps my favorite part of the end / beginning of any year is the scheduling. I love planning vacations, race trips, outings with friends, summer activities, and everything in between. It gives me a ton to look forward to (anticipate), and I especially find it enjoyable thinking about new opportunities while continuing old traditions. There is nothing more relieving than 52 weeks of fresh, untainted hours – a canvas for which to leave our masterpiece on.
- Anticipate – Hand in hand with planning comes the anticipation. The anxious arrival of your wondrous plans, the unanticipated hiccups, the huge decisions that require spontaneity, and the struggle, growth, and eventually the accomplishment of some very intense goals. I tend to set my goals as a “be done with xyz items” before the end of the year, even though many are date driven. I prefer goals of all shapes and sizes – one or two huge ones, a smattering of boulders, and then tons of itty-bitty pebbles all coming together to form my year.
Time is a wondrous thing. It screams by too quick in the moments we want it to churn slowly, and it drags through the mud at the times we couldn’t be clearer about hoping for haste and urgency! We seem unable to have enough when we need it most, and when we have any measure of excess of it, our days evaporate in a blur (holiday vacation, anyone??). All in all, it probably means we need to be more appreciative, grateful, and patient…
I found this page looking for some of the images above and recommend reading through these inspirational quotes from J.R.R. Tolkien. If it doesn’t make you want to rise up, be better, and charge forth with new courage and vigor, well, I can’t help you…
No one knows what awaits us once the clock strikes midnight tonight, but all we can do is prepare to the best of our abilities, and find ways to spend every single second with those who matter to us. A very happy 2020 to you all!