We always start January the same way. There is the list of New Year’s resolutions, going back to school and work, focusing on our diet and exercise regime (or lack of) and the need to change our lives.
So why do we always want to change things in January?
January is the most popular month for employees to think about changing their jobs. (HR Magazine) In a survey conducted by Indeed (the biggest job site in the world) 50% are considering another job. The reasons they give are salary, challenge and commute. January is also a time when a lot of us consider changing our diets and our lifestyle to become healthier. More gym memberships are started in January than any other month. We also start the year by promising ourselves that this year will be different. We will be different. More patient with our kids, more understanding with our partners and parents, more caring in the community, a better listener for our friends. We will spend more quality time at home with our families. But then February happens and before you know it you are half way through the year and nothing has changed. Not really.
I don’t think we are realistic and we set ourselves up to fail from the beginning. There is something about the time of January that make us feel we should start again. All of our lives are so busy and the holiday time we’ve just spent with family and friends reminds us of the things that we enjoy. The food, the drinking, the not having to go to work/school and spending quality time with family, even if it was playing charades.
So do we need to start this change in January?
Let’s face it. We are all on life’s journey. We’ve been on it since we were born and and we are not getting off until we die so that’s not going to change. At the moment some of you may be going on a physical journey. Maybe you are starting a new job, moving away, spending more time caring for a family member. Some of you may be going on an inner/emotional or spiritual journey. You might be in recovery from an accident or addiction, coming to terms with your inner demons or coping with the loss of a loved one. This journey does not have to start in January and end in December. The journey of changes that we go through should make us wiser, more knowledgable and increase our memories. They will not always make us happy and we shouldn’t always strive for that.
Should we go on a journey of change or change something about the journey?
I think a great many of us are guilty of wanting to change too much. I had a friend who was very unhappy going to work. He decided to change his job and after going through all the stress of interviews and negotiations he landed a new job. The problem was he was still unhappy. He realised (eventually) that it wasn’t the job he hated but the commute. All he had done was swap one role in the City for another but with the same commute. He needed to dig down into what part of his physical journey he didn’t like and to change that, not the whole thing.
Recently I read an article about ‘journey mapping’ (sad, I know!) looking at the relationship between an individual (customer) with a company or brand. It set out the different parts of the journey, starting with a 360˚ view and then listing the following: road map, story map, pain points, moments of truth, loyalty, interaction points and emotion.
Other terminology was used and although this is obviously a business model I wondered if the same could be applied to change our life journey. If we began our journey with a 360˚ view on ourselves and then dug down into one aspect of that journey that we want to change, maybe our success rate would be higher. Making that one change, no matter how small, may be the answer to achieving our goal.
I’ve decided to change one thing. Not the life journey I’m on but the way I am travelling. My ‘inner self’ is always wanting to sort things out straight away and know what I’m doing next. Obviously not a huge problem and the control freak in me is very good at that but it can make my goals unrealistic and puts me under enormous pressure to get everything done. I need to let go of this rigidity and structured timetabling. I’m still driving my train down the track of life but I’ve decided to use the auto pilot button sometimes and take my foot off the accelerator. Hopefully it will help me to appreciate the small things happening in my life, like when my kids are showing me their best drawing/homework and I’m pretending to look at it whilst thinking about the ironing mountain I need to tackle.
Buzz Feeds latest article cited ‘8 life changing things to try in January’ ranging from skin creams, masks and a sleep machine. They may well help but for now I’m going to try just one small change in how I approach life and see how far though this year I get. What one change are you going to make? I’d love to hear your thoughts.