I don’t do hard things in January.

I don’t do hard things in January. This has been a new revelation on my journey from perfectionism to its opposite, whatever that may be. From my experience, a perfectionist’s approach to the New Year’s holiday is to microscopically examine every way you did not live up to unattainable ideals in the prior year. Then once you have a good shame spiral swirling, gradually convince yourself that this year, you will do all the things, be all the things to all the people. This cycle is predicated on the belief that perfection is attainable and the lie that incremental progress makes it possible.

Despite my work to reject this old approach, I refuse to give up on the promise of New Years. I embrace the opportunity for deep reflection and I crave the space to look ahead with intention. And in 2020 the page turns to not just a new year but a new decade.

This is the question: how do I stop abusing myself into the new year and instead take the time I need to reset, reprioritize, and rejuvenate? Last year a friend posted about how she takes January to reflect rather than to initiate and that resonated. Expanding the timeline to whatever it needs to be feels really good. Last year I used Chinese New Year as my decision point. This year I did a lot of reflecting through the sunset of one year and into the sunrise of the new one. I haven’t rushed to create goals or to push myself into any changes, big or small. Instead I used January as a testing ground, trying different shifts, reflecting on how they made me feel. I’ve been sitting with ideas for days and weeks– turning them over, thinking about their implications, identifying ways even a small change can ripple out into many areas of my life.

January will focus on kindness to both my past and future selves. Before doing a difficult a thing, I’m asking myself why. Before plunging my energy against habit and inertia, I’m considering how. Instead of committing to change because it promises tempting returns, I’m observing how one change ripples into many, and how one shift can feel seismic. I’m moving through this first month of a new decade with heightened awareness, easy forgiveness, and a spirit of “let’s see what happens.”

Eventually, I will make a few key decisions and commitments for the year. But only after I’ve tried them on and felt their weight. I’ve decided that self-improvement is less important than growing myself. I need to understand that difference moment by moment, month by month.

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