January ( and sometimes February and part of March ) are slow times in the road warrior portion of my career. I use those term very loosely, both slow times and career. None the less, traveling anywhere to do much of anything comes to a screeching halt this time of year. It’s called “First Quarter Inertia”. Just because I can’t be driving down the highway with my stereo blasting smooth jazz or quickly hopping on a plane to parts unknown (again using the term quickly very loosely in this day of long lines at the airport), doesn’t mean that I am just sitting around the house waiting for work to come to me. Well, maybe a little bit, but I won’t admit it. So anyway, it’s the hunker down month and the opportunity to do a multitude of things.
That being said, this is a time for reflection, contemplation, reevaluation, creativity, expansion of knowledge, sharpening of skills and organization of surroundings.
Reflection: It’s the start of tax preparation and I reflect on the sad state of my 1099’s. Well money isn’t everything, yeah, “tell that to my creditors”, one thinks to ones self. No really it isn’t and I know that. I think back on the wonderful, “cough-cough”, well, various places we visited last year and the experiences we were able to add not only to our work portfolios but to our life souvenirs. Adding wonderful memories to ones mental movie reel makes the long winter days and nights more tolerable. You should never live in the past, but having the ability to press play and revisit beauty and serenity in your mind’s eye often gets you through the toughest of times.
Contemplation: I contemplate on what I want out of the coming year. When I was younger ( note I didn’t say when I was young) contemplation was not even a word in my vocabulary. Youth only looks forward with a “get outta my way” approach. Planing and envisioning don’t figure in much, when you are in a rush. I’ve finally discovered that there is NO RUSH. You will get where you are suppose to get, when the time is right for you to get there. You can help to shape your future, map out things a little better, develop fall back plans and strategies and generally prepare for what you think is ahead. Contemplation helps to smooth out the road a bit. January is a good time for it. It provides a sense of well-balance, while giving you 11 months to realize how little control you really have over life.
Reevaluation: This goes hand in hand with Creativity. It’s like a potter’s wheel. You shape and mold the clay and when it looses momentum and disintegrates into a pile of mud, you get to reevaluate the potential and create something that will work better. I tend to rework my resumé this time of year. Add the new things I’ve accomplished and discard the lesser ancillary items of filler. You know of what I speak. We all have filler not only in our resumé but in our lives. The extra adverbs and adjectives that camouflage the mundane. In these hard economic times, there is a lot of folks doing R & C (reflecting and creating) . We look over our spending, our habits, our relationships and our goals and attempt to become more frugal, conscientious, focused and inventive. This is a time to get lean and mean and back to basics. I’m always amazed that when I take a really hard look at something which began so simple, I realize it has morphed into something fraught with negligible necessities . I like to throw it out, cut it back, make some changes, weave it into a piece more useful. I feel better about it in the long run.
Expansion of knowledge and Sharpening of skills: Read, listen, create and re-balance. The “there is no rush” also applies to this. Life pretty much clips along at its own pace and we can decide if we want race ahead, go with the flow or take a bit of time to chill and reflect. January is a good time to do the latter. Not that I have a lot of choice; see paragraph one about not being much work this time of year. It’s not about being lazy, it’s about appreciating the limited time we have to enjoy. Sometime it’s not all about you, but here and there, stealing a moment that is just for you becomes a necessity for your sanity. You know the old saying, “all work and no play”….You have to intertwine the two. So I catch up on my mandatory schooling, read some good books, write a little, watch some trashy television, cook my favorite foods, sleep a little later and just take a lot of deep breathes. There is life just around the corner and I need to be rested up and ready for it.
Organization of surroundings: What is one of the great things about the slow time in my business? Well, it is eventually over and all hell breaks loose. The fun and chaos starts all over and for this I need to prepare. Lining ones ducks in a row, not only makes the parade go smoother, you are more likely not to wobble and fall down. It’s the whole Girl Scout, “be prepared” thing. No, my suitcases are not packed, nor is the gas tank full, but in my mind, I’m ready for what comes my way and the anticipation will soon make way for reality. January will be a month just like any another month in the past, my fretting over puny 1099’s will be a forgotten memory and opportunity will have knocked on the door and I will have answered. Bring it on…..