It’s the common refrain this time of year. Every year, really, but this year, more than any in my memory, feels mores. In some ways, it’s big picture stuff – the end of democracy, maybe? In other ways it’s related to personal loss, to the closing of a Very Busy Year, or even just to the fact that Winter has finally come to Wisconsin (three degrees Fahrenheit right now – brr!).
The thing is…nothing is actually ending. It’s all changing.
In a way, that’s worse. We’re really used to the three-act drama, the introduction, the complications, the resolution, and roll credits! It gets messier when we realize that after we count down to midnight on December 31st, there’s not going be a pause before the next tick as 2018 comes barreling towards us.
The Clock Doesn’t Care
A friend of mine created “dumpster fire” ornaments for 2016, when everyone was astonished at the political landscape. It seems such an innocent time, now, as we come to the end of 2017, and she remarked to me once that she’d made the mistake of putting the wrong year on the ornaments.
The reality is, though, you could put any year on those ornaments and someone would nod and say “Yep. That was a bad one.” Our reliance on arbitrary demarcations of time means that there is a cruel and unyielding taskmaster looking at us in the mirror.
The clock? The calendar? They don’t care. Ask any entrepreneur (or parent) if Saturday and Sunday are automatically “days off” (and prepare for their laughter, and perhaps their tears). Five pm doesn’t care if you’ve been working all day (he writes at 5:45 pm after working all day).
If you’re feeling time pressure, it’s because you are putting it on yourself. That may be ingrained from years in a particular occupation, it may be enforced by children or pets, or it may just be your own drive to squeeze more out of the day. It’s part of what makes this particular time of year confusing – as TechnicallyRon tweeted:
It is the period between Christmas and New year. No one knows what day it is. Time doesn’t really exist. Can we start drinking at 10am? Why not. Existence is a confusion.
— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon) December 26, 2017
Hacking Your Life Time
Since the clock doesn’t care about you, that means you get to choose how you care about it. It’s a good time to decide what 2018 will mean to you. Can you take the things that were bad in 2017 and relegate them to that metaphorical dumpster fire? What are you taking with you into the next year — intentionally or not?
It’s a good time to start a journal — I always recommend the hand-held write-with-a-pen kind — but don’t wait for 2018 to start it. Start it tomorrow. Start it now. Want a writing prompt? Here you go:
On December 31, 2018, the start of your journal entry reads “Oh my god, this year was so much better than I expected.” Now, answer the question: Why is that?
It’s a good time of year to KonMari things — purge, get rid of, simplify — so that you start the new year lighter on your feet. Can’t find anything to get rid of? Maybe you don’t have enough! Start a list: The 2018 Survival Kit. Start adding all the things you wish you’d had in 2017, the things that would have helped you deal with life. Post the list somewhere people will see it, and let them know: Winter is coming…wait, no, winter is here, and that means 2018 is coming!
Me? Well, as I said, there’s a lot of feeling of loss this time of year for me, so I’m spending my time battening down the hatches — making sure things are where I need them, things like my yoga/meditation/journaling practice in the morning, my work, my friends, my family…and this, my blog.
If none of that works for you, well, maybe you should take the advice of a wise wolf:
IF YOU SPRINT INTO THE WOODS ON DECEMBER 31ST AT SUNDOWN YOU WILL FORGET THAT TIME EVER MATTERED TO YOU BY MIDNIGHT
YOU ARE FINALLY FREE
— NOT A WOLF (@SICKOFWOLVES) December 19, 2017
Whatever you choose to take you out of 2017, I wish you well.
I’ll see you on the other side.