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Perspectives for 2023
Behavioural psychologist Katy Milkman calls them ‘breakpoints’ – annual or milestone moments in life when you’re most motivated to change. New Year’s Day is one of them. Research shows people pursue new goals at micro-chapter breaks like the start of a new week, a new month, academic or calendar terms and post-birthdays.
But the logic doesn’t always follow. Think: The January intention to lace-up your running trainers on some of the coldest, shortest days of the year. Or the itch to buy shiny new kicks so you’re turned-out come September’s new school term (even though you left in 1999). These things are woven inexplicably into our shoe-loving, self-bettering DNA.
It’s easier to distance ourselves from past mistakes and broken resolutions when we hit an official breakpoint – you’re someone new now and judgements on past failings no longer apply. Fresh starts are a breath of fresh air. They give us hope.
“It is always during a passing state of mind that we make lasting resolutions”
Seeing as there’s thousands of regular breakpoints in our lives already (the research shows that even the most mundane Monday counts) it’s strange – and conveniently commercial – that the expectation to strategise the ‘new you’ comes in so hard on January 1st.
I find it easiest to think of these passing states of mind as a ‘personal evolving’, with a bit of optional January pressure on the side.
Here’s a few for 2023:
In 2022 (old news, I know) I just applied daily process to running and the occasional meandering thought spirals of writing YATSN. Slight blinkers on the situation there. This year, I’ll apply it to more things intentionally.
Process-orientation is about finding a flow state, often-times without an end-goal in mind. Draw without knowing what you’re drawing, walk without knowing where you're going, crochet or quilt a blanket over years.
Give your tangible results away. Keep the process. It’s usually the best bit.
Curate an inner soundtrack
Music in unexpected places is mood-shifting. Swimming pools that play music underwater are the best. Tunes with BPM that match your heart rate make you feel alive.
Line up a personal soundtrack in your head and adjust the volume when you enter a room, make a coffee, fall out of bed etc. Soak it up, make it part of who you are, know that you can change the record.
German mathematician Carl Gustav Jacob had a smart strategy to solve difficult problems and said something like, “Invert, always invert.”
This applies to high level maths but is also useful in life. Forward-thinking makes it harder to identify obstacles that can stand in the way of our success. Turn things around and think from the endpoint rather than the obvious start.
N.B This may be the opposite of being process-oriented. I’m still working that part out.
Anyway, inversion: Say, you’re buying a house. Looking ahead, you think of all the things you could do to secure a deal on the one you fall in love with. Looking back, you ask yourself all the things you could’ve done to avoid buying a money pit.
If you're launching a new product at work, start with a ‘stretrospective’ (spoiler: I just made that word up) but you know what I mean – what are the potential issues you haven’t considered yet? Negate them in advance.
New Year takeaway
The end goal is big picture realism and a life that’s semi-smooth. But of course if you're comfortable with chaos, keep the blinkers on standby.
Someone wise once said that’s the key to conquering most days anyway. So here’s to being comfortable with chaos in 2023.
See you – wearing your resolution shoe of choice – on the other side.
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