How can it already be January again? TV commercials are filled with gym ads and weight loss schemes, magazines are filled with pages of organizational bliss, and everywhere you look it feels like the collective universe is trying to turn over a new leaf.
Poor January, so much pressure on this one month, so many hopes that we will turn it all around. It all makes me twitch a bit, as it feels like I’m being bombarded with guilt wrapped up in empty promises of someone else’s definition of perfection.
Now here’s the good thing about January, it gives us hope. It’s a time of reflection, a time when we feel like we get to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. There is a pure sense of optimism in January, and that feels lovely. That, I can get on board with.
So how do we embrace January’s sense of optimism in a way that can actually be helpful and not leave us feeling like a dejected heap of failure the first time we find Valentine’s candy hopping into our grocery cart? (We know who we are.)
For me, it’s balancing optimism with a dose of realism. I am optimistic that this is going to be a good year. I am optimistic that I can continue to build some better habits. I am optimistic about creative opportunities I have yet to discover.
But (there’s always a but), I’m also realistic. For example, while I am excited to learn to cook more whole foods, I’m not giving up chocolate or promising that I will never again indulge in the deliciousness of a sweet tea on a summer day. (I mean let’s get real, I do live in Texas and we are rather fond our sweet tea. Have you tasted the stuff?)
If I can look at each day as an opportunity for change, for better choices, and honestly, for just accepting myself as is, sweet tea and all, I stand a chance at harnessing the hope of January all year long. And while I have no interest in hanging on to January’s weather, I would totally love to hang onto feeling this hopeful, this willing to try new things, this fervently that I am capable of changing the things I want to.
Did you notice what I said in that last sentence? I focused on the things that I want to change, not what someone else thinks I should change or who they think I should be. That’s critical to being real as well. It helps to view change as a journey you choose.
As I’ve gotten older, I can look back and see how my views and opinions have shifted the more I learn, the more experiences I have, and the more people I meet. So when I’m talking about January changes, I’m talking about the sense that we all have inside that we can keep moving forward, keep growing, keep learning.
A friend once asked me, “When you think about making a change, does that change make you feel open and happy or does it feel constrictive?” It’s a good question that has helped me embrace the spirit of optimism in January (and hopefully all the year through). It’s about who you want to be, knowing that every day you get the opportunity to put one foot in front of the other, and embrace the journey, even beyond January 31.
Featured image (Hello January) © MarekPhotoDesign.com – stock.adobe.com. Standard license.