I have literally been staring at that question on my screen for 30 minutes. That ‘rest’ that I “really needed” has come, and gone. There are so many loose ends sitting in my inbox that it feels like I’m facing a pile of spaghetti as a to do list. My body has turned to mush thanks to successive colds and too much food and, helpfully, the entire world has shifted into hyper New Years Resolutions selling mode. Great. Welcome to January.

Still, pauses are useful, beginnings are hopeful and there is something to be said for taking stock and thinking before you leap back into the same old thing. Here’s my bit of New Year’s wisdom:

  1. It is always useful to make use of the ‘space’ that a holiday brings to create some perspective. When you’re outside of your regular doing mode, you realise that perhaps the things that you are doing are not making you happy. Or maybe you realise that something just has to change. I think it’s always good to notice how you feel about going back into working mode and think about how you can adjust things to make your working experience a little better. Or if you realise you are deeply unhappy about yourself or life in general, find a professional to talk to.
  2. I always find that the best time to get rid of a bad habit is after a holiday, because the change of routine has created an interruption in your habitual behaviours. This is another reason why holidays are not only nice, but also extremely important. They lift us out of the rut of bad habits that we accumulate just to get by. The key is to be aware of the tendency to slip back into them once you return to working mode. There’s no need to be cynical about a New Year’s Resolutions. Now is the time to make the shift. Is the habit just covering up a deeper rooted fear, unhappiness or boredom? If so, refer to no.1.
  3. If you really want to get back into exercise then the best option is to join a class. If possible try to pay upfront for a course of classes. That way you’ll show up every week. Doing it alone takes a lot more discipline and ultimately other work commitments will take over and seem more important. Busting your guts in the gym for one week is the best way to secure an injury that will just hinder you for the next 6 months. The little and often approach is more sustainable and ultimately more effective.
  4. Try something new. Everyone needs an outlet for creative play. This is something I’ve really struggled with, mainly because the activities that many people associate with recreation, (dancing, music, yoga, etc) are all kind of work related for me. So last term I decided to join a choir. I went along to the first session and paid my subs for the term. I felt completely lost. I almost didn’t return to the second session. But by the third and fourth session I was totally hooked. It’s been quite a challenge for me to just do something for fun. I had to let go of a lot and just get on with it. I still cannot read music to save my life, but who cares. There are so many things to do in London and they don’t need to cost an arm and a leg. I love initiatives like Write&Shine, which is a pre-work creative writing class plus breakfast. Book clubs are quite fun too, but then try to do something that involves meeting new people if you can. The social aspect is part of the benefit.

Finally, and I say this more to myself then to anyone else, the key is to just start somewhere. Don’t be a perfectionist about it, it doesn’t have to be your best yet. It’s just a start.

Happy New Year!