By the end of January, sometimes it feels like I’ve hit the winter doldrums. The hectic holiday season is over, but winter is not. The effects of all the indulgent eating and lack of exercise has caught up with me, but it’s not usually nice enough (at least in my part of the world) to go outside to exercise. My productive writing routine goes flat. I’d really rather just curl up on the sofa with a fuzzy blanket and a good book. I wish I could hibernate until spring.
After the initial enthusiasm of the New Year, it’s easy to find energy for our creative goals flagging just a few weeks later. A needed routine can feel more like a rut. At this time, it’s important to give ourselves permission to do what we love, and to explore what we might love, if we had the chance to try it.
So, if things are feeling a bit stale for you, try the following: Make a list of at least 25 Things You Love, or Things You’d Like to Try. You can combine them; it doesn’t matter. The idea is to help you realize there are many things you might easily do more often, if you gave yourself permission. Or, you may simply need to become aware again of the things you’re already doing that add value to your life. Also, there are many other things out there we might like, if we pushed ourselves a little to try them.
That’s the thing: the list is nice, but the next step is to actually make sure you do at least some of what you love. Some things you may already do every day: meditate, drink coffee, write.
Others you may do less often, but you can make a point of remembering why you love them. If you love to eat out and try new restaurants or cuisines, put that on your list - and on your calendar, too.
Some things you might love but can’t do regularly. If you don’t live near the ocean, a long walk on the beach won’t be a daily thing. But can you bring something of that experience into your life? A piece of music set to ocean waves? A photograph or painting of the ocean that you can look at any time you like?
And finally, what’s something that you might love if you tried? Snowshoeing? Learning a new language? Wine tasting? Get out your calendar, and decide on a date to explore what’s available in your area, and try it.
You can keep an ongoing list of Things You Love, from the simple (eating a piece of really good chocolate) to the grand (international travel and exploration). As you go through your day, or week, add things that you love as you become aware of them: taking a hot shower first thing in the morning, solving a difficult problem at work, making a good home-cooked meal… and also add things you might love, and plans to try them, as they come up.
This way, when the usual creative work gets stale, or life has you in the doldrums, you can always go back to your list and be aware of all the things you can do to bring joy and a little adventure to your life right now.
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