Resting and Refocusing

It feels natural to rest in January after the busy holiday season.

The gifts are all opened, the travelling has ended, and even the dishes are finally finished from those big holiday meals. Hopefully we are left with some good memories and fun times with those we love and care about. But even those fun times can sometimes add to the exhaustion we typically give way to at the beginning of the year.

And rest is good! Even catching up on sleep helps us in a number of ways, including improvements in memory, metabolism, mood (from studies cited by the January 2006 Harvard Women’s Health Watch Newsletter).

The body has its rhythms of activity and slumber, and so do the seasons. When the activity of summer comes to a gradual and graceful stillness in the winter, it’s usually after the holidays that we pause to reflect on this natural quietness.

The hustle and bustle that seems to begin earlier and earlier each holiday season stand in stark contrast to the more sedentary pace of January.

But, as paradoxical as it may sound, the natural resting phase we seek in January also helps us to refocus.

The attention that had been directed outward for the past few months, can now point inward.

So it is fitting that January is also when we start our New Year. It is a time of fresh perspective and renewed clarity. We devise our plans for the year ahead and we set goals and expectations on how we’d like to live, what we’d like to experience. We notice what needs to change in our lives.

The issue that often arises, though, is that in our need for rest, we aren’t able to muster enough energy to take action on our goals. We are left wishing and dreaming instead of making our way to those results. One month leads to another, which leads to another and yet another. Before long, we are left thinking back on the year that passed before us, wondering what we really got accomplished.

It is at this critical time at the beginning of the year that we could really use a boost on in motivation and willpower. We could benefit from some encouragement and support. Because we know from experience that without it, we will likely be left in a similar place next year, and the year after. Our dreams and desires for the future remain fantasy when we don’t have the strength to take action.

So, let us take our rest in January and dream big for the changes we’ll make in the New Year.

Then, let us take a single small action step toward our new goals; it doesn’t have to be big.

Let us support our own efforts by finding sources of encouragement, like searching out pictures that speak to us or quotes that resonate. Let’s read inspiring stories of people overcoming adversity and give ourselves some space to discover our own motivations.

But no matter what, we won’t give up.

It doesn’t matter if we’ve failed to keep our New Year’s Resolution 50 times in a row. One small action leads to the next, and it is only in taking action (even internally, like changing our thoughts) that we can make real change.

It is in that vein that I share the enduring battle cry of tenacity:

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.” (William Shakespeare’s Henry V, Act III.)