January is about soups and spreadsheets.
You may think it’s about gym memberships, dry January, Veganuary (woohoo), facing the soul-crushing reality of going back to work whilst desperately crawling towards payday, but you’d be wrong. For me at least, it’s about soups and spreadsheets.
Let me explain.
I love the first few weeks of the year. Having run out of money and energy is the perfect excuse to stay indoors and hibernate- something which, let’s be honest, I like to do for much of the year anyway, but January comes with the unique blessing of it being both justified and encouraged. And with hibernation comes soupy soupy goodness. Soups are amazing in January for four key reasons:
- They’re cheap to make and can get you through that longgg stretch before the first payday of the year.
- They can be super quick but you can also spend an hour or two preparing one, which can (at a stretch) be framed as a ‘fun activity’ that you just happen to be doing at home because you don’t want to go outside and also have no money (see point 1)
- Soups are (mostly) pretty healthy so help you feel like you’re getting the year off to a nourishing start without having to pretend like you’ve had a personality transplant since NYE (‘I know I had three large portions of chips last night but now I’m all about greens, pulses and Instagramming my smoothie bowls’)
- It’s cold and a soup is a hug in a bowl. Get on board.
So, that’s soups ticked off. Now for spreadsheets.
I always appreciate January’s opportunity for reflection on the previous year, and planning for the year ahead. Resolutions are shit and will make you feel shit when you inevitably break them, but goals are something I am a huge advocate for. I already hate myself for saying this because it is so disgustingly business-speak and wanky and YUCK GET OUT OF MY FACE, but setting SMART goals is genuinely helpful when it comes to making sure I make progress on the things that matter to me.
A year ago I read an excellent book called The Happiness of Pursuit (yep, that’s the correct way round) in which author Chris Guillebeau meets various people undertaking epic ‘quests’, be that creating the world’s largest symphony or aiming to spot every species of bird. This is about to get relevant, I swear. He recounts his own experience of visiting every country in the world before his 35th birthday, and looks for patterns between the people who succeed. Turns out that to achieve big things, you have to plan big. You have to get nerdy as fuck about how to spend your time and energy to make sure you can follow your passion project, because otherwise work/family/admin/pub is naturally going to get in the way.
So to use his time and his life well, Chris conducts an annual process in which he reviews his goals and sets them down for the year ahead. As a dreamer who loves lists and starts many projects but finishes few, this appealed to me massively. So I downloaded his spreadsheet and started a slightly altered version for myself. Then I reviewed it three times over the course of the year to check on my progress and sat down to do a final review today.
Did I manage all of the goals? Hell no. Did the system work? Absolutely.
I nailed 7 out of the 25 goals, which sounds pretty crap. But for all the ones I didn’t complete, I got a damn sight further than I probably would have done otherwise. And I doubt I’d have completed even those 7 if I’d written them down as resolutions on January 1st and forgotten about them by Galentine’s Day.
Through doing this, I’ve been able to differentiate between the things I really want to do and the things I think I want to do. Or, at least, I’ve identified what my current priorities are.
So today I spent a delightfully geeky and reflective few hours reviewing the last year and planning for 2019 with a final list of 19 goals. I’m going for fewer goals that are hopefully more achievable in their ambition this time. Some examples include ‘listen to one album a month by a band that are new to me’, ‘reach the point where I can do 1 full pull-up on a trapeze/hoop’ and ‘replace 5 products with an ethical and sustainable alternative’. I look forward to failing at most of them, but getting much, much further than if I had never tried.
Watch this space.
See?! Soup and spreadsheets.