Thinking back to January 2017, I remember how long it seemed to take many people to get back into the swing of working, networking and even planning for the year ahead.
I felt frustrated at the number of ‘out of office’ messages I received in the 2nd and 3rd weeks of the month and how difficult it was to get hold of key contacts and firm up dates for the months ahead.
The long dark month of January can seem very daunting after the festivities of December with the often added pressure of detoxing – (‘dry January’ for many) and the credit card bills reminding us of our over-spending in the pre-Christmas bonhomie.
As we sit down at our desk for the first time in the New Year hoping to find ourselves fired up and full of bright new ideas for the best year ever, we can often end up feeling daunted, jaded and struggling to get through the endless ‘to do’ list. We can go to bed feeling we have wasted the day and wake up dreading another lack-lustre and unproductive day.
So how can we welcome January and embrace it, rather than counting the days until it is well and truly over?
How can we utilize this long, cold month to re-boot, recharge and re-focus our minds and bodies to live life to the full in the year ahead?
Half the battle is in accepting that most of us will not be feeling as energized in January as we are in the warmer months. We will feel more like lying in bed on those dark, wintry mornings and then curling up in front of the fire/TV when the light fades late afternoon/early evening.
So why not allow ourselves extra rest time to catch up on some of those books we bought and promised we would read in the previous year? Or to listen to webinars, podcasts and Ted Talks we have earmarked to delve into, to further our own development, without beating ourselves up that we are not ‘working’ in the traditional way.
Any investment in our own growth is also an investment in our business/professional growth and is essential if we want to keep on evolving and taking ourselves to the next level and beyond.
January is also an excellent time to de-clutter our working environment and our business.
Sitting watching a favourite movie is an ideal time to delete unwanted files/photos/emails and to unsubscribe from the many lists we have been unknowingly added to. It also a great time to clean up our own databases and sort out our specific mailing lists.
None of the above activities take much brainpower or creativity but will certainly enable us to feel more organised and to work more effectively in the coming months.
January is also a great time to think about how we want our lives/businesses to be by the end of another year. So, allow yourself time just to dream a little and imagine how it will feel when those dreams come true.
A wonderful exercise I learned last year from Gosia Gorna – Transformational coach, speaker and author was the following –
Take a sheet of A4 or A3 paper and divide into 3 vertical columns.
- In the 1st column – write down all the things you are grateful for in the past year – both business and personal.
- In the 2nd column – list all the people who have helped you in the previous year.
- In the 3rd column – write down all the things you are proud of about ‘YOU’ in the past year.
I have just repeated this exercise and it has given me so much perspective not only on the amazing year that has just closed, but also on the incredible opportunities and support I have for the year ahead.
This is such a great exercise to do before any planning or goal mapping for the year ahead. It also really re-enforces what you loved doing and did well and what you should do more of in the coming months because it plays to your natural strengths.
Take time to review your goals for the past year before you plan the year ahead. What worked well for you and what did you struggle with? What do you need help with and what should you stop doing or let go of?
This is also an ideal time to look through notes you have taken from workshops, webinars, coaching sessions etc. and to review what actions are still relevant for you to take to ensure your success in the year ahead.
Don’t rush your planning, allow yourself time to think and to process those thoughts and dreams for the future and often it’s during the ‘down time’ that we get our ‘light bulb’ moments and deepest realisations.
So, allow yourself time to appreciate nature – wrap up warmly and get out in the fresh air – you will savour the warmth of your home and office so much more when you return.
Meet up with inspiring contacts or arrange Skype calls and then be really ‘present’ wherever you are and for whoever you are with – just listen fully without rushing into solution mode – people need time to think and talk without judgment or answers, so give that very special gift of ‘undiluted listening’ and enjoy the pleasure that gives to others. You will most often find the ‘gift’ is reciprocated and we can think and talk more clearly in the presence of a great listener.
Embrace the gift of January – it is a month to re-charge, re-boot and re-focus so allow yourself the precious gift of time to do just that and start the new year feeling valued, positive and powerful.