I’m not planning to post anything between Christmas and New Year (Twixmas or Romjul, if you prefer) except perhaps a catch up post, so this post is really a sort of forward planning post, looking at what I intend to do next week and what I’m planning to start off with next year. I have some questions I need answering by any readers out there, which I’ll be asking this week and next, so be prepared to post a comment even if you never normally do.
2020 has been a crazy year for everyone. I think, no matter how well it started, it’s finishing with a world that seems flat, weary, down at heel and facing an uncertain future where no amount of forward planning can prepare the Big Forces of Government for what might (or might not) happen. Beyond voting every four/five/seven years, the Little People seem to have very little power over what happens on the larger world stage. I think that’s a blessing and a curse, since it renders us simultaneously powerless to do any thing and free from responsibility for actions taken. We have no power over anything happening externally, so we can only do what all people throughout history have ever done: take responsibility for our own happiness and actions, and set our course to be the best person that we can be as an individual.
That’s a very stoical outlook. It’s also very Twelve steps: we accept what we can’t change, change what we need to and work out where to put our emphasis and effort accordingly. And it admirably demonstrates Hope… that we need to plan for 2021, that we are capable of improving our own or someone else’s life, that we are not powerless to make a difference, to build something good, to help our fellow men.
This whole Christmas has needed to be a season of Hope, an expectation that things will improve and that we need to do our best to make that true. And we need to carry that Hope forward with us into next year.
Strange as it seems we still need to plan. We may have no control over what is happening with the wider world, but we can still have aims and ambitions for ourselves personally… perhaps not the usual Bucket List aims of travelling the world or discovering a new planet, but the small, everyday aims of expanding our learning, building our relationships and creating oases of calm in an otherwise busy life (more than one oasis makes oases). This small scale planning is what I intend to do next week.
I intend setting aside a morning or an afternoon, or perhaps a couple of hours over two or three days, taking a pot of tea and my journal and curling up in my bedroom or in a quiet corner of my family room and taking a space of time to think things through. Knowing my family, my best bet for uninterrupted time is early morning, so I’ll possibly take a few minutes before hand to write my Morning Pages and clear my head of overnight cobwebs. Generally I need to look back, list where I am now and launch the future plans I have for me as an individual, for my paid work and for my creative work and outlets.
- Taking time to be retrospective is always a good start: Looking back and identifying the good, bad or indifferent lessons, emotions and events of the year gives me a chance to see what the general trajectory of the past year has been. Did I achieve anything I set out to do? Were last year’s plans any use, or did I desert them half way to dance to a different tune? Knowing whether I’m still on the same basic path, or feeling the need to steer slightly differently helps me set up my year ahead. I know, for instance, that political issues simultaneously took up too much time but in a way that achieved nothing. I was baying at the moon, and what I will probably aim to do this year is focus my efforts on action not attitude. Similarly, my great travel plans for the year were wiped out. Do I still want to keep those up, or shall I release them and have a year free from fixed travel arrangements and free to grab the opportunities when I can?
- I like to make a list of things I’m grateful for. Whether concrete objects or transitory events an dmoments, it’s good to look back and remember the highlights. I always have a gratitude list somewhere in my notebook, so I’ll take time to read over those, and start a new one for 2021.
- Most of my time will probably be spent on my plans for 2021: looking at the areas of my life: personal, business and creative. I will identify the goals and intentions that I think at this moment in time I want to follow. What are they? And why do I feel drawn to these ones? Some time spent identifying what I need to put in place to achieve them will help as well: are there any books, programmes, online courses or personal connections that I want to develop to help me grow? I identify them for the year but plan in more detail only for the first quarter.
- I always spend some time either now or in the weeks leading up to Christmas to identify my Word of the year: I like to have a focus word to concentrate on, as I explain in this blog post. Last year was Wholehearted, which I believe was a good word to guide me. The year before had been Bliss, which was not. This year, I am going for Create, which will be my word for now. I’m toying with the idea that I may not have it as my word’ for a year but only for a quarter? I decide on my word by listing a few that I like the sound of, putting a physical list of the words or the words on post-it notes up where I can see it often and playing in my mind with the feel of the words. I like, if possible, to have a book to anchor the words to, ideally connected to the word, or close enough to give me a lunch pad into the word. Last year was Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. This year I’m revisiting an old friend, Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I first read it over 18 years ago, and it’s time I walked down the path again. I’m intrigued to see how I manage Artist Dates and weekly inspirational trips if there’s a third National Lockdown in the UK. I’ve also ordered the Artist’s Way Workbook, more as a way to encourage me to work methodically through the exercises and have a place to record them.
- I will also be planning for Hibernation: My first quarter of the year is usually spent in being happy at home, and I call it Hibernation after the online course created by Heather Bruggeman. Hibernation is my research period, usually finished around Easter when I put my plans into action and enjoyed by Halloween, when my life slows down. Apart from working my way, at my own pace, through The Artist’s Way, this year’s Hibernate is about settling into my home, decluttering to create joy and space to create and building an online community. I am considering online courses, but I need to take time to work them out and get them in place.
And there you have it, my Romjul Plans for 2020. Very simple in sound, but I know several of them will take far more time than I estimate they will. What are your plans for Romjul this year?
Daily Read: Your Wholehearted Year by Jen Carrington. I used the free mini book in this post last year, when my word was ‘Wholehearted’ and it was a useful guide to setting out intentions, areas of focus and steps I wanted to take to achieve them. It’s also proven helpful this year when I will be using an adapted version to shape my 2021 using the word ‘Create’.
Daily Book: Creatrix by Lucy H. Pearce. This is my Christmas reading next week, before starting on my Hibernation path. It’s about the driving force to create and how we need to express that in one form or another. I’ve read/listened to a couple of Lucy’s other books, so I’m looking forward to underlining, highlighting and copying out very many lines that touch my heart, like this one “I have to (create). I am compelled to. Creating is how I can stay alive”.
Self-Care Act For the Day: Start planning ahead. Download the mini ebook (it’s free) or get out any other list of life questions you have found useful. Collect words that speak to you and that might be suitable for your words of the year, start a new notebook for the year ahead or collect lists in your current one for possible plans for 2021. Yes, Christmas hasn’t happened yet, but we always need something to look forward to. Today’s a good day to start collecting those ideas together.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted or bought by me with my everyday wages.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
A Self Care Christmas: A short ebook on keeping Christmas simple and making sure it doesn’t overwhelm.
Celebrating a Contagious Christmas: Available in ebook and paperback, it’s about making this year a festival of Hope.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little rhings in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, however we get to celebrate it this year, and a Happy, Healthy and Simple New Year.