Everyone I know seems to be thinking of one thing right now, which is pine-scented and red and green and has a bunch of tinsel hanging off it. Me, I’m thinking about how close we are to the New Year! There are only two weeks until New Year’s Eve and I am oh so ready for it.
Is it just me, or is saying goodbye to 2020 going to feel much more jubilant than other years?
It is hard to express just how seriously I take the transition between the new year and the old. For years, all the biggest and most interesting stuff I have done is because of intentions that I set formally at the new year.
Some of what I am doing over the next two weeks, traditionally, is digging out whatever I wrote down the previous year and checking to see if I’ve done it. If not, do I have time to check it off?
(Goal-setting and success are really technicalities. They’re measurements that you choose for yourself and decisions that you make about what is important to you. Therefore, just pick things you want to do and make rules that get you a win!)
What I’m going for is a sparkling feeling of starting the new year off with a clean slate. Part of how I do that is to try to make sure that I don’t drag anything from the old year that is unfinished.
No unfinished books, or maybe just one
Clean fridge and freezer
Donations dropped off
No worn-out socks, underwear, t-shirts etc with holes
No pending notifications on my phone, which is something I struggle with
Nothing expired, whether food, medications, or whatever
Current on doctor, dentist, haircut, vet, whatever appointments (although this year exceptions have been made on the haircut front)
No dried-out pens, broken pencils, etc
I am consistently doing drawer and closet purges throughout the year. That makes it easy to do the big year-end roundup. I physically walk around my apartment, scanning over every shelf in every cupboard and asking, Is it obvious why I have this?
In a small place, this can be done in well under an hour, even if there are a lot of inventory decisions to be made. Examples would be whether the clothes in our go bags still fit or whether all the bandages in the first aid kit are still sealed.
What tends to take longer is digital clutter. Do I really use all the apps on my phone? (No, of course not, but am I ready to do anything about that?) How close am I to the storage limit? Do I really need to save a dozen copies of a photo I accidentally took in burst mode?
Something that I do every month is to change the wallpaper and the lock screen on my phone. This is fun, and it also reminds me that time is passing and the seasons are changing. I like the image I choose for January to be something upbeat and bright, unlike, say, the weather. (This is in contrast to what I choose for October, which tends to be dark and spooky).
Another big deal is the choosing of the new day planner. I love them all. In theory I like the idea of having a neat row of matching planners, but in practice, I prefer swapping them out. It wouldn’t be beyond me to get a new yearly planner every month. A silly waste, not Organized at all, but a fun and frivolous idea nonetheless.
The most important thing that I do during this time, while I am winding down, is to think about what has become the default setting for my life. How am I spending most of my time? Where is my attention going? Who am I spending time with, and is that a coincidence? What does my home look like on an average day, and am I happy with that?
These, to me, aren’t really answers that I can jot down in an hour or two of New Year’s Eve planning. I find it better to let them settle so that I’m sure I have a true sense of where my time is going and how I feel about that.
Usually I come to the same conclusions: That I don’t get enough sleep, that I should probably try to relax more and be more social, that we could use more art on the walls, that I should be listening to music more often, that my wardrobe is shifting back toward more somber colors again, that I could probably spend a bit more time doing things I enjoy, like solving cryptograms or reading poetry.
Then we all launch into the New Year and, like everyone else, my good intentions start to dissipate, to vanish into the atmosphere until I am back on my BS.
Why do I seem to keep voluntarily choosing to be a stress case?
This year my self-care goals are perhaps more important than they’ve ever been. At this time last year, I was recovering from a minor surgery after a life-threatening infection. Just a few months later I got COVID-19. I’ve never been so tired for so long, and it’s really challenging sometimes just to drag myself through the day.
This annual planning, though, is perking me up. It’s helping me to remember who I am, and it’s helping me to imagine a time a year from now when I might not feel unwell any more.
These two weeks are my pre-planning phase. These are the things I do before the big night. On New Year’s Eve, my husband and I sit down together and make goals for the year to come. We talk about where we’d like to go on vacation and how we might want to spend our wedding anniversary, that sort of thing.
This year, it’s going to be so much more exciting than usual. This is the year that we may get our vaccines. This is the year that everything has a chance to go back to normal. Normal never sounded so good.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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