Why is it I struggle so much at the beginning of the new year? The new year is supposed to bring a promise of great things, a new beginning, a fresh start. I’m excited and awakened to new possibilities. Yet, it’s not too long into January, where I find myself floundering….already. It’s so discouraging!
You’ve heard it said that most new year’s resolutions fail before January is over. Another study says by the second week of February. In other words, resolutions are difficult to keep. I don’t necessarily make resolutions, however, I do set goals and try to go after them with a renewed vigor. But like last year, when I felt like I was being batted around like a ball in a pinball machine, this year, I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel, spinning faster and faster, and never getting anywhere. It is frustrating. I can see how easily the “new” from the new year wears off, and the gray days of winter overtake us again. Then like I said, I’m back to floundering, and frustrated…. And any other f-words you can think of, like freefalling. (And shame on you if you went “there” with the f-word – grin).
In looking at my January flounderings, I wonder if I get too overwhelmed at the prospect of all I want to accomplish in a year. You’ve heard the joke about eating an elephant? You can only eat it one bite at a time. Like many of us I believe I look at the entire elephant, and think there’s no way! Not even in bite-sized pieces. Once you’re overwhelmed by looking at the entire elephant, or the entire year before you, it stops you in your tracks. You give up, say there’s no point, and chuck your planner in the trash.
There’s one the key thing to remember when you reach this point: STOP! Stop beating up on yourself. Stop looking at the entire elephant, and focus only on what you need to do next.
Get off the hamster wheel, and tackle what needs to be done today and only for today. How do you do this?
For me, time management is usually my problem. Knowing this, I’m going to try to schedule my days better. Go back to the basics: Make a list. Then do the next thing. I’m not going to worry about tomorrow’s list, or beat myself up for what didn’t get done on yesterday’s list. I’m only going to focus on the next thing. If I get interrupted, then I adjust my schedule. Sounds simple, right? What if you don’t know what should even be ON the list? Well, I’m not sure I can help you there. But here’s a thought. If you can’t get specific with itemizing a list, what about blocking off chunks of time to work on a certain project? Then another block of time will be devoted to the next project?
If you get interrupted within that block of time, then shift it to another day (making sure you have some flex in your schedule to shift to).
This concept is from one of my writing groups, where the author blocks off her writing time, then blocks off family time, then has exercise time, etc. She leaves one day free in her week in case something does need to shift. This all makes sense to me, and that’s how I’m scheduling my days.
I’m not sure how it’s all going to work out, but I have to try something. I want to get off this hamster wheel, and work toward my goals. Whether I succeed or fail, at least I can take the next step.
What about you? Are you floundering this year? Going in circles on a hamster wheel? What advice do you have for getting off the spinning wheel and making progress?