Look, it’s been a rough 2020 for the world as a whole, and for many of us personally. I’m not here to tell you what you should or should not do. Except for this: you need to make room in your life for things you enjoy. Some of you are probably doing an excellent job of this already, while others may feel guilty about failing yourself on this as well as other things.
Well, first of all, stop feeling guilty about fun. It IS a luxury, no matter what people these days say. If you don’t find room for fun, well, that was life for millions of people all through the ages.
But . . . it is a delicious feeling to have a little fun when you’ve already got a lot going on. There’s no failing this quest – but there is winning this quest.
So, go ahead and read through my advice – and I’m going to tell you, making plans is really, really fun for me! I love giving advice, particularly if I think it’s good advice. But if it’s not for you, no hard feelings. You can comment about what does work for you, or go research a little deeper into methods that look more interesting. But I hope this will work for some of you (and I hope it will work for me, too).
The whole Fabulous Five Weeks of New Year Plan hinges on second chances and redemption. Maybe you don’t keep resolutions well for a whole year. This is a shorter-range plan than that. You only have to try for five weeks at a time. Then, the beauty of 2021 is that February 12 is almost
five weeks after January 1st . . . and it’s Asian new year! Chinese New Year, Tet, Old Japanese New Year. You can start again. And then, approximately five weeks after that, it’s March 20 – spring solstice, also known as Persian New Year. Another new start!
Here’s my plan for the first three or four months of 2021.
Basically, New Year’s Day is a day of rest. Sleep, relax, watch TV and eat good, naughty things. I’m chowing down on Chex Mix, Japanese-style (recipe available upon request in the comments) as I write this.
The second day of New Year is for planning the attack, or reviewing the plans. What do I want to accomplish in five weeks? Is it reasonable? (It doesn’t matter if it’s reasonable or not; you can still try it. It’s important to acknowledge whether or not it’s a long shot. And sometimes things that seem to be impossible turn out to be rather easy, while “easy” things can turn out to be horrifyingly difficult. Just notice how you feel about it, and write it down.) When am I going to do this?
Third day? Get going! But you are allowed to take a slow start if you want to. Burn-out is a real issue with me. I start things well, but often lose energy in the middle. Flexibility is an important part of this plan. If I’m starting to feel burnt-out, I’ll have to take a break before it paralyzes me.
Here’s how I’m going to apply it: My first New Year will be spent mostly in research. I want to read through my notes and three books about the 1890s. I will write weekly blog posts during this period. I’m going to polish five short stories during this time, working on them particularly on Tuesday and Thursdays. I also will write new flash fiction, and designate time for that on Friday nights and Sundays. I’ve also got some personal cleaning goals for the entry ways in preparation for the second New Year, as well as keeping the kitchen in a reasonable state of tidiness. I will also post one video each week. (I want to make it two, a meditation, and a kitten video, but that depends on the weather and a lot of things beyond my control, so I’m going to keep it at one.)
My second New Year: Happy New Year! I’m going to celebrate what I DID do during the five weeks, and ignore what I didn’t. I’m going to have a feast, with fried Vietnamese spring rolls, and gyoza pot stickers and maybe some almond chicken. Maybe I’ll make fortune cookies, just for fun.
Day two: concentrate on what I could have done better during the first New Year Period. Apply that to plans for the second New Year. Do I need to repeat the whole first NYP again? Or can I progress with new plans? Or a mixture of both?
Assuming I can progress with new plans, I tentatively (in firm but erasable soft pencil) plan to write my 1890s ghost story. Or at least to the first act. I’ll blog. I’ll continue to polish old stories for a collection to be published in time for Halloween. I’ll work on cleaning out the garage (the weather will be warming up). I’ll also start exercising more, in preparation for summer’s yard work.
My third New Year: Spring Solstice, yippee! It’s usually still mud season in my part of the world, but I’ll be able to start a lot of plants indoors and care for them. My third New Year will end just about the time it’s OK to start working outdoors again. We also have my father-in-law’s death anniversary at the end of March, so I may have to do some major cleaning . . . but that’s for day 3. I plan to enjoy the beginning of spring on day one and have something fresh and green to celebrate. I’ll plan with all the personal busy-ness in mind. If all goes well, I’d like to write the second act of my ghost story. (It’s been sitting around in my head for years. It’d be nice to finish it!)
And that takes us to May Day! I could plan like this all day, but planning isn’t everything. I’ll leave May for a later day.
What about you? Are you eager to try anything new for productivity, or do you have a tried or true “trick” that (no matter how weird or eccentric) seems to work for you? Please share – it might help someone to think of something that works for them.
May our 2021 be more boring, more orderly, more peaceful than the year that has passed.