Happy New Year!
Sick of New Year’s resolutions that fizzle up by January 31? Go for a fresh start instead.
Have you heard of the ‘fresh start effect’?
Research states occasions like New Year’s, birthdays, holidays or even the beginning of a week or month are associated with increased aspirational behavior, These ‘temporal landmarks’ help people split their perception of time into “before” and “after,” and help you bounce back from any previous failures, real or imagined.
Fresh starts or ‘performance resets’ generally follow less-than-stellar periods of personal/professional performance. If this is your experience, give yourself time to recover and grace to ensure a more resilient mindset coming into it.
Although I’m not a fan of resolutions – it feels like a lot of pressure to put on one year – I love the idea of fresh starts. It seems more optimistic to work on something new than to reverse a habit, or continue to brood over what might have been or regrets about missed opportunities.
My yearly reset always includes making something – whether it’s a series of fabulous dinners, a beaded bracelet or a ceramic vase, creativity gets me out of my head and back into the flow of life. For years, I have marked late December and the darkest time of the year by bringing my inner gardener, well, inside, and planting Paperwhite, or Narcissus, bulbs. While most flowers lay dormant through winter, Paperwhites rise and shine, an act of both courage and optimism.
Here’s a quick tutorial, if you’re new to indoor gardening.
While those tender green sprouts shoot up, I emerge as well, ready to sow seeds to new projects and new relationships as a nurture the old ones.
Although I’m not a fan of resolutions – it feels like a lot of pressure to put on one year – I love the idea of fresh starts. It seems more optimistic to work on something new than to reverse a habit, and if you start small, those fresh starts can feel less overwhelming.
Ready for a fresh start? Here are a few suggestions to get started.
- Plan your goal and set up specific, measurable and actionable steps to achieve it. It’s not how big the goal is, it’s your commitment to it.
- Start with a clean slate. Er, make that clean desk and computer. I waste more time looking for a misplaced file than it takes me to do the actual work. Organize. Prioritize. Purge what no longer serves. Even that ridiculous to-do list that never gets smaller. Simplify.
- Organize your time. We often spend time jumping from one task to the next, never completing any of them. We’re busy but not very productive. We can do it all at once. So set a time limit for each task, turn off distractions and get ‘er done. Are there tasks you can delegate to someone who can do them better? Do that!
- Talk to your people. Those are Human Resources, vital to your success, mental health and social life. I’m a big fan of one-to-one Zoom sessions and small networking groups. The coffee meet up is a favorite as well. However you connect, just connect.
- Explore new ideas. Novelty, innovation, different points of view. They all provide that spark of inspiration, lead to new paths. Let go of the fear of failure and revel in curiosity and possibility. Have a conversation with a stranger. Go to a museum. Take up soccer or ballroom dancing or soccer. Fall on your butt. Then get back up again.
- Chill. You know that thing about all work and no play. Play. Break out the tunes. Take a hike. Take mini breaks during the workday. Even a 30 second walk around the house/office is a good reset after sitting all morning. If I’m standing at the mic for a couple of hours at a time, I enjoy some yoga stretches and deep breaths. Only you can prevent burn out. Be kind to yourself and relax.
Plant those seeds/or bulbs and see what emerges. And please, tell me about it.
Remember, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.