Friday, December 21, 2007

The Unbearable Lightness of Late-December

Today I bought a new daily planner for 2008. This isn't interesting on it's own, but what is interesting is that, as an overachiever, it's unprecedented for me to not have next month already scheduled and overbooked.

My plans are usually penciled in at least a month ahead of time, with future To-Do lists already in place for certain days. But here we are, on December 23 (!), and January still feels far away. Where most months bleed into each other, the leap from December to January feels different. There's something about the new year that creates a momentary pause in our hectic lives.

We can attribute a lot of this to the break we get during the last week of December. Our attitude (for better or worse) is either "Let's finish it before the holidays," or "We can worry about that in the new year." It means that the mental space we reserve for daily fire-fighting is suddenly clutter-free for the week. Without the pressures of having to get things done, study for finals, or endure meeting after meeting, we feel a bit lighter. With this, we begin to think about "what could be" and what new things we want to see or create in our lives.

There's something about late-December that temporarily shifts our focus from the typical "small picture" thinking (daily routine, weekly plans, etc.) to big-picture thoughts of what we want in life. Like a deep sigh, we give ourselves the opportunity to re-set, re-start, and think more broadly about the coming year - what we'd like to do, things we'd like to change, and new avenues to pursue.

With an emphasis on goals, projects, and endeavors, it offers inspiration and a challenge that we don't get from our daily "To-Do" lists. It affords us the time and perspective to check-in with ourselves, see if we're on track, and make whatever changes might be necessary. New Year's resolutions are an obvious next step after this end-of-the-year introspection, and I think the ritual of setting goals is a result of the feeling we naturally get from changing our calendar.

With an empty planner for 2008 and the prospect of a quiet week, I'm excited to dwell in this "clean-slate" feeling. I'm a bit reluctant to open my planner, for fear that I'll get swept up again in the minutia of the day and week.

I don't think I can make it until Jan 1st with an entirely empty planner, but I'll give myself another few days to ruminate on the "big picture" of what I want in 2008. It's the vision of what "could be" in the new year that's heavy and light at the same time.
  • Do you get a similar late-December feeling? Please comment...
If you're looking for some help creating a vision for 2008, take a look at my workshop "YOU in the New Year" or contact me at

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