If you took time off over the holidays, today is the first day back to work. Even if you don’t do resolutions, January feels like a fresh start. A fresh start always feels good. But as the year goes on, we make mistakes and get older and do some things over and over, and maybe get criticized, and the fresh feeling leaves and we abandon any hope of change because “what good is it anyway?”
Sometimes that’s good–we don’t have to re-invent ourselves every day. Much like getting over the first page in a journal, getting over “messing up” the first days of the new year can be a relief.
To make sure I didn’t raise expectations too high, on January 1 and 2 I slept in, didn’t take my walk, and let the laundry go so I could draw. And wrote 5,000 words in the new book.
The important next step is to keep trying. Small things. I signed up for two online classes–both drawing/watercolor classes. And my decision was simple: I would post what I drew every day, even if it was awful. Even if I hated it. Even if everyone else posted gorgeous, advanced work (yep, they did). Because it doesn’t make sense to show only the good side. It’s just as useful to show the things that didn’t work out, because they are the ones you learn the most from.
The modern philosopher Alain de Botton reminds us to put success in perspective:
What I want to argue for is not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but that we should make sure that they are our own. We should focus in on our ideas and make sure that we own them, that we’re truly the authors of our own ambitions. Because it’s bad enough not getting what you want, but it’s even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of the journey that it isn’t, in fact, what you wanted all along.
It’s Monday and you are ready to get back to your routine. Make it the routine you want. Know why you are choosing it. Because if it doesn’t make sense to you, it sure won’t help get you where you want to go.
—-Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach. She’s not sure she’s ready for this Monday, but she is jumping right in.