Small Business Life

The Doldrums of January

A snowstorm in Denver in January 2016

You all feel that right? The subtle, yet quite noticeable presence of the doldrums of January. It’s an affliction that arrives somewhere in between the packing up of holiday decorations and the realization that the new year ahead very much exists in uncharted territory. Here be dragons, as it were.

January, February, March, these first few months always throw me for a loop. I find myself rather torn wanting to be both optimistic—resolute you might say—toward making the new year a smashing success, and experiencing the often more present feelings of overwhelm, ennui, and indecisiveness. Your 2017 planner is shiny, new, unfilled and demanding; your to-do list is staring at you waiting to be filled with brilliance; your ambitious, entrepreneurial mind is begging for new goals to be conquered like so many summits. Make every day count, they tell you. Live in the moment. Visit any social media platform in this season and you’ll find such platitudes flying at you in droves.

So what do we do to conquer our dragons?

  1. Give yourself permission to ease into it. Don’t feel like you have to do ALL THE THINGS by the time January 15 rolls around.
  2. Keep it real. Instead of creating a 26-page itemized list on Google docs of everything you want to accomplish this year, take it in chunks. What are your top five, big picture priorities for this first quarter? For each of those priorities, what are three bite-sized goals you want to work on that will help you craft that bigger picture?
  3. Seek out inspiration. Maybe you should read a book from a genre you usually skip over. Visit an art exhibit you haven’t viewed yet. Pull out an old hobby you gave up on in years past. Find a new hobby. Invest your time and some funds in a language class. Commit to joining a new work group or professional organization of your peers. Network.
  4. Use your time wisely. Get a sufficient amount of rest every night and hit the ground running every morning with a rested and eager mind. This is something with which I very much struggle. I’m a night owl by nature which means late nights and ignored alarm clocks. Now and then, I say go ahead and indulge. But for the most part, take care of yourself, and take advantage of each day fully.
  5. Have a dance party. No really. Turn on your preferred tunes and dance around your living room. (The kitchen will also do.) If you’re like me, you’re working alone from home, so what do you have to lose? Let go of those inhibitions that say I can’t dance, or I feel ridiculous and truly go for it.
  6. Cross something off your weekly to-do list every single dayFight through the overwhelm and start achieving your goals. It feels gratifying and empowering to check off even the smallest of items, so get to it.

In a lot of ways I wrote this list with my small business in mind, but I think these tips can apply to personal, life goals as well. There isn’t a single one of us who is just one thing, whether that be an entrepreneur, a wife, an employee working from a cubicle, a part-time retail associate, an aspiring painter/writer/baker. And I truly believe that the less we compartmentalize ourselves into those descriptive boxes, the more likely we are to hit the personal and business goals our hearts and minds desire.

So now I’m going to quote Ferris Bueller. Are you ready?

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Look around. See this new year with eyes full of potential and get going in spite of the doldrums. Don’t miss it.


SIGNED, anya elise

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