Happy New Year!
Is today just like any other day for you, or do you see the beginning of a new year as a time to reflect and set intentions?
As I wrote here a year ago, I no longer make formal resolutions or long lists of goals and aspirations for the coming year. Still, the idea of a fresh start is so appealing I can't resist trying to do a few things differently.
Or maybe just one thing. This time last year, I vowed to break the habit of starting my day by checking my inbox and scanning headlines. Too often, that practice left me agitated and unfocused--exactly not the way I want to be when I sit down to write or tackle other tasks that require concentration.
It was a worthy goal, one I tried all year to accomplish. But the busy-ness of book publishing and promotion and the enticement of never-a-dull-moment national news was too seductive. I just couldn't keep myself from going online before breakfast.
Until a few weeks ago, when I finally found the mettle to break the habit. What flipped the switch for me was a piece by Colleen Story on her Writing and Wellness website that caught my attention with the subhead, "Why Writers Should Avoid the Internet First Thing in the Morning."
In the article, Colleen cites research suggesting that hopping around on the internet interferes with the ability to focus even after getting offline. She goes on to list five first-thing-in-the-morning activities that are more conducive to all-day productivity. I won't repeat the list here--you can read the full article for that.
But I will tell you about the change I've made. For the past three weeks this has been my morning routine: yoga, reading poetry, writing down dreams or other thoughts (but not to-do lists), then working on my novel-in-progress. Email and other online business come only after all of that.
I was astonished at how quickly changing that one habit made a difference in my mindset. As I wrote in my journal after just a few mornings of the new routine, "Ideas flow, I feel calmer, less focused on my to-do list; I think instead about what I'm reading and writing. This is good."
In short, simply by changing one habit I feel recharged and ready to put my creativity to work in whole new ways in a whole new year.
Do you have a habit you'd like to change? Need a little help making it happen?
Here are some suggestions I've gleaned over the years:
May 2020 be a year of creativity, connection, and contentment for us all!
Written from the heart,
from the heart of the woods
Read the introduction to HeartWood here.
Nan Sanders Pokerwinski, a former journalist, writes memoir and personal essays, makes collages and likes to play outside. She lives in West Michigan with her husband, Ray.