In ski-towns, where the bounty of tourism revenue comes in winter or summer, there is something called "shoulder season"*.
Many colleges have a 'J-term', which is a condensed academic term between semesters. An oddball. An anomaly.
And, then, there's our favorite headliner of transitions: middle school. The awkward collection of discombobulated growth, developmental stages, and individuation.
While our human nature loves stability, we're surrounded by transitions.
And, right now, we're swimming in the mother of transitions: January.
January is a strange month.
I mean, perhaps, I should just own this. It's a strange month... for me.
For years, living in a colder climate, January meant dreary, gray, and cold.
But even now in South Florida, when January means the best weather of the entire 365 days in a year, the month still holds its familiar whiny child energy.
Exhausted from the past, but too excited for the adventure ahead to settle down for a much-needed 20-minute nap.
January is needy.
The month can't help that it is a month of closure and beginnings.
It didn't choose to be the brackish space of last year's regrets and the new year's fresh commitments.
And, it certainly didn't ask to be the only month for which a giant global party witnesses its arrival with high hopes and expectations, only to be left a mess of confetti an hour later.
That are realized (or not) with persistent day-by-day work (even though we think it's the turn of a second hand that makes these dreams possible and true).
The Farmer's Almanac tells me that "January was named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions."
So then, embracing January might mean embracing beginnings and transitions.
To do this, we turn these Januarisms into verbs: "to begin" and "to transition".
- What do you feel called to begin?
- What do you actively need to transition? (get unstuck, make a change, shift focus, move past, forgive)
There are ways to transition:
- Push: Set a goal, make it happen.
- Be pulled: Align with energy. Say 'yes' as opportunities arrive. Visualize. Act 'as-if'. Allow.
- Write your story: Fill in the blank...day-after-day. You are on a hero's journey living the plot of your adventure. "And then he/she/they _____________________."
I came across some wonderful intention setting questions. Full list is available from Crossway.org (https://www.crossway.org/articles/10-questions-to-ask-at-the-start-of-a-new-year/). In a group I'm facilitating next week, I gave the instruction to choose the questions from the list that sparked interest or emotion. There's no need to answer them all, but DO answer the ones that call to you. (Extra credit: answer these questions from the perspective of your future self. It's 12 months from now, and your future self is looking back at 2024.)
My nine favorites from this list:
- What’s the most important decision you need to make this year?
- What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
- What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what’s one way you could simplify in that area?
- Who is the person you most want to encourage this year?
- If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it?
- Where do you need to give the most “badass” part of you space to show up stronger this year?
- What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
- What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
- What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years?
And, if you're finding that "shoulder season" is asking you to find some closure before moving to 2024, here's a great tool from YearCompass.
- It's free to download and asks some of the most beautiful growth questions on this path (or jigsaw puzzle) of a life well-lived. https://yearcompass.com/#download
Cheers to transitions.
Confetti or not, January longs to be a companion to your dreams.
Notice January not for being the bridge between what was and what will be, but rather for January's own uniqueness.
Treasure January for what it has to show you.
Thank January for being an in-between cocoon to punctuate last-year's sentences while simultaneously urging you forward.
It's time. Time to craft, create, curate the experiences your future self will thank you for.
*Note: Google tells me that the term "shoulder season" is due to one of two origins: 1) a reference to the bell curve, or 2) because it's not cool enough for a coat, but a light shawl or scarf around your shoulders is appropriate to wear. Hhmmm...not sure which explanation is most reliable...