January first dawns and you breathe a sigh of relief.
Along with the calendar page a new leaf has turned. A clean slate. A new beginning.
You rise out of bed feeling as though a weight has been lifted…
Except it hasn’t.
The same burdens that weighed on your shoulders and heart December thirty-first still weigh heavy.
The same bills that needed paying come around again and demand their due.
All those life-altering changes you promised yourself would come about “next year” now loom dauntingly in front of you.
This New Year feels anything but new. It feels just as heavy and hard as the one you couldn’t wait to leave behind.
I know, friend. I’ve been there.
I’ve stood, paralyzed, as a new year hovered like Goliath, taunting me to just try and see what happens. I’ve struggled to put on the fresh face and place one foot in front of the other when the changes and demands looming ahead push back against you in a current of stress, expectation, fatigue. When everyone else is a bubbling brook of excitement, refreshment and positive direction change while you stand fast in cement shoes just wishing it could all stay the same for just a moment; just so you can catch your breath for a second.
What do you do? What do we do when the world and time marches ahead? When this New Year feels like anything but a fresh start?
1. Baby Steps. Continue to put one foot in front of the other. Wake up. Make breakfast. Read to your kids. Hug your spouse. Keep taking the next step. Don’t worry about the big thing on the horizon. Start with the very.next.step.
2. Don’t Hide. While there’s something to be said for solitude and quiet personal reflection, you need to make sure someone knows you’re on the journey. They can be waiting in the wings to help prompt you when the words won’t come; when the next act is frozen in your memory. Tell your spouse, your best friend, a trusted mentor, someone. Let them know you’re struggling and that you’re moving ahead, but at a snail’s pace. The darkness seems less heavy when you know it’s shouldered by others than just yourself.
3. Do The Fun Things. You’ll feel like a faker. You’ll feel like everyone can see through you. And you may be faking it – for awhile. But start that tickle fight with your kids. Run in the garden and tag the kids and laugh when you fall in a tangled heap. Go for a walk and share in the wonder your kiddos find in the randomest most boring elements of nature – even if it’s only in words for now, share it. Soon, the feelings will follow your actions. Probably not as soon as you’d like, but eventually.
4. Focus On The Things You Can Control. If major changes are needed in your life, pick one or two to start with. Things which you can actually control – your attitude, your behaviors – and work on them until they come more naturally. Then pick the next thing. Start small. Choosing a huge daunting thing will only further paralyze you.
It may not feel like a fresh start. And maybe it isn’t. After all, responsibilities, debts, illnesses don’t vanish simply because the numbers on the calendar roll over. But keep putting one foot in front of the other. And you’ll eventually see that perhaps it was a fresh start after all; even if it didn’t look at all like you had hoped.