J. Dianne Dotson – Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer – Limitless

Look at that blue sky, with the clouds shifting. I saw this on a walk a couple of days ago. It made me remember the childhood habit of watching the clouds morph into shapes. Do you still do that? I do. They can be anything! And so can your year ahead.

A new year is viewed as a new opportunity. How many times have you read “new year, new you!”, a true cliché if ever there was one? Just do this cleanse/workout/purge your wardrobe, and hey presto! You are all new. The foibles of the previous year are gone! I appreciate the sentiment in some ways. After all, we traveled around the sun again—no small feat. I’m not sure that means we must reinvent ourselves based on an arbitrary calendar date, though.

I think in some ways the holidays throw many of us so off our routines, we feel pressured once that calendar flips. I need to start that diet. I need to purge my closet. Today! It’s A NEW YEAR! IT’S A NEW ME!

In reality, what if a shift in thinking about the new year released the pressure? If we’re going to continue this reboot every 365 days, why not let it be a blank canvas? Is that so terrifying? The year, when it starts over, is limitless.

I’m not talking about practical limits here. There are so many limits we have, whether they are by our choices or by our circumstances. I’m talking about a mental approach. I keep getting this vibe from people this week: I have to get started on this x-y-z-whatever. I need to get going after my post-holiday funk. But you have a year! You’ve chosen to recognize the calendar change. Why not choose to realize you have a fresh year ahead, and you can do so many things this year! Not because magazines tell you to. Not because you’re shamed into giving up something—or even worse, buying something—because society demands it. Buy this all-in-one appliance to make your life better! Do this workout that Ms. Everything is doing!

Maybe instead of a reboot, a realignment back to your routines makes more sense. You had an entire holiday-free life for most of the year. So what were you doing before then? If you had good routines, just get back into them. Recognize that everyone overdoes it during the holidays. Part of it is coping (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) with the shorter days. But now the days are getting longer. The season will change again in just over two months.

Give yourself time to get back to healthy routines. Or give yourself time for making new ones! Consistency matters, and if it helps, write down what you do. I’m old-school. I write down in my paper planner how many minutes a day I exercised, and what I did. I also keep a journal. It’s not at all exciting. It really just recounts the day. And not every single day. But if that helps you, that’s another consistent thing to do. What did you see today on your way to the office, the mailbox, the car, the window? Who did you meet? What did you eat? What color was the light at three in the afternoon? Did you see any wildlife today? What was it? These little steps keep you present. And they’re a fun way to look back, if time permits, on a year well-lived.

The quiet little moments make up so much of the year, and often so much of our joy. And guess what? They’re limitless.

Image Credit: Blue Sky and Clouds by J. Dianne Dotson Copyright 2019

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