Except for the fact that it is the start of the calendar year, January is terrible for goal setting.
Consider how Mother Nature treats winter.
- Plants are dormant.
- Animals hibernate.
- Sunrise is later and sunset is sooner.
Why, in the middle of this dormancy, would we insist on setting Big Hairy Goals and setting up schedules and requirements to fulfill them? It literally goes against nature to do so.
Winter is a time for rest and recuperation. Go back to the example of plants – that dormancy does not mean the plant is doing nothing. Deep in the ground the roots are growing stronger and extending their reach to support the growth that will happen in the spring and summer.
“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” Anne Bradstreet
In all of the Little House on the Prairie books, Laura talked about the cold winter days in Minnesota where nightfall came early. Sure they did what chores were required to survive, but in the winter, they hunkered down together reading, sewing or listening to Pa and Mr Edwards fiddle while they danced in front of the fireplace. They connected.
What if you also took that time to rest and recharge during winter in preparation for an active spring and productive summer and fall? Rest is so important that it is a component of each of the 3 pillars of Sustainable Productivity and is covered in each lesson in the Sustainable You course.
Here are a few ideas on how you can spend your winter differently since January is a terrible time for goal setting.
Health and Fitness
- Rest. This is not sleep, this is rest. Sitting without sleeping or distractions. Maybe all you can stand is 5 minutes. That is a good place to begin.
- Take breaks in your day. Because I work from home, I take a slow walk around the garden sometimes as a rest from work. My dad and I talked about this once when he was trying to quit smoking when he was still working as a school superintendent. He said he needed the timeout that smoking gave him. If he were to just go stand outside, people would look at him funny. But if he were standing there smoking, it was more socially acceptable. Let’s think about that – taking a moment to smoke is more socially acceptable that taking a moment to rest. Of course, some of that is our own perception, which is where my walk around the garden comes in. To someone else it might look like I am just surveying my plants, but I am not making my list of garden chores, I am just walking slowly in nature.
- Silence. When is the last time you sat in silence so quiet your ears almost hurt. The phrase deafening silence exists for a reason. I am not talking about meditation. Just sitting and listening to the quiet. Silence can satisfy a need for social, emotional, spiritual and creative rest.
- Rage. Imagine a mosh pit for one. This may feel counter intuitive to rest, but consider how heavy pent up anger is. Anger acts similar to stress. Having that rager can help your body physically process the cortisol and associated glucose so it doesn’t sit in your body.
- Create a restful space. I recently earned of the “Japandi” decorating trend and I am pinning and following it like crazy. This is the type of restful space I would love to have. I don’t have it now, but I can dream. Find what feels restful for you.
- Rest from screens. More than just turning screens off, help your eyes rest from those screens. Lower the brightness on your computer and mobile devices or experiment with blue-light-filter glasses to limit the blue light beaming from your screen.
Some of these suggestions might spur other ideas that resonate more with you. Maybe you need to make a list of how to rest. Get creative with your ideas and make them yours. Maybe your mosh pit is in your car. Maybe you sit in silence in your closet because it is more soundproof. Consider this a different type of goal setting – recharging and setting yourself up to tackle those Big Hairy Goals with a full tank.
I would love to hear how you rest. Comment below or send me a message on social media. In the meantime, rest up!