The featured image has little or nothing to do with the post. I couldn’t find the photo I wanted, so I went for some shameless cute factor. You’re welcome.
There’s a lot of same-old same-old in the end of 2022 article department. Five tips here, seven ideas there. Top 25 this, “Best-Of” that. Blah, blah.
What if…what if, just for this year, you didn’t follow anyone’s annual advice? Didn’t read any of the lists?
What if you canceled something for absolutely no reason? Refused to bake the snickerdoodles for the holiday party?
What if you skipped setting goals for 2023, or threw out the vision board?
What if you let most of this stuff go?
Sometimes we must let things go, like when we’re sick or have to deal with an emergency, or even if we have to push to finish a big project. In those situations there’s nothing more important than the crisis at hand. Forced prioritization. Quadrant I stuff, for those Eisenhower Matrix acolytes out there (like me). When we get through the situation to the other side, we come to understand that the Earth is still spinning on its axis. The situation resolves, sooner or later.
But how much of the mid-to-late December dust-up of advice, reviews, requests, think-abouts, “hey don’t forget to” stuff is manufactured prioritization? Culturally inspired (guilted?) prioritization? How many of the things we commit to during The Season are to fulfill the expectations of others, or reactive responses to the usual external cues?
The other day I caught myself falling into a list of the “10 Best Books of 2022”, and starting to pick out which ones I needed to request or put on yet another list (!)…when I realized I had about seven unread books on my shelf just from this year alone. What was going on there? My mindless response, I suppose. Marketers and retailers count on this sort of response, of course.
A week or two ago, a friend asked me how much of my holiday decorating I had completed.
“Well, I’ve got a wreath on the door, and that’s pretty much it.”
And they replied, “And that’s probably all you need.”
Not, “Oh my gosh, we get our stuff up right after Thanksgiving,” or, “Gee, I would have thought you’d have everything all in place.” It made me stop and think – what an incredibly kind thing it was to say (particularly for the immediate post-Quadrant I place I was in at the time).
It made me think, too, that I had already been ignoring the usual external cues this year (with the exception of the aforementioned book list). What would it be like to intentionally keep ignoring the messaging for a bit? I’m not telling you to refuse to put up your tree, gather with family, or plan out your 2023. That would be me giving advice, and you maybe taking it, wouldn’t it?
I’m gently suggesting you take a pause and examine your Big Whys. What’s the meaning behind what you choose to do or not do? Where’s the impetus to add something to the list coming from? As Big Bird says,
“Asking questions is a good way of finding out things.”
It’s not always easy, calling to mind our Whys. But like culling through objects in a closet or drawer, considering, “Why do I have this _______ (flashlight, old key, jacket with holes, etc.),” taking a hard look at the choices you make with your time and energy is freeing. And, as I write this, I realize the process is similar to my idea of Pivotal Objects. Considering how various “Pivotal Tasks” contribute to your success or reflect your values, sometimes you keep the commitments, and sometimes you let them go. Either way, you can breathe a little easier.
I did do more decorating, purely because I wanted to. I’ll probably bake a batch of cookies somewhere along the line (because my family likes that, and I like my family). I’m not ordering any more books (for now 😉). And this will be my last post for the year, because I’m intentionally taking a break to focus on other things.
So, I’ll see you in the next one. Wishing you a happy, peaceful, intentional December.
Thank you for opening my eyes to this phenomenon. Until I read your post, I wasn’t aware of how much I buy into the hype. Yes, I do see the start of a new year as a good time to make changes – not because the number on the calendar is different, but because it’s easier in some ways to make changes after a break. I know I can’t change everything, and you’ve reminded me of this important fact.
Oh I definitely fall into hype from time to time, too. And the New Year for me does signal a re-set, but if I don’t get my goals fleshed out, or if I change them up, it’s all good. I didn’t do a big picture plan for my business this year until last March, and that was just fine. Some things came through, others needed to wait. I tend to let it be an organic process which seems to work well for me. Thanks for stopping by, Janet!
I love this post. There is just so much coming at us everywhere we look and especially this time of year. why do we follow or get sucked in to these things. My motto is do you and be a rebel if you choose.
Being a rebel is appealing, too. Thanks for the kind words and comment, Kim.
Well said. And happy year-end wishes to you, Sara!
Thanks, Hazel – hope your week is off to a wonderful start.
I’m glad you didn’t find the photo you wanted because I love the “cute kitten” choice you made instead. It got me pulled in. 🙂
You have me smiling because what did I write about this week? Yup! The 12 Favorite and Best Loved Organizing Ideas of the Year. It was a look back over 2022’s post I wrote and I picked my favorites along with a quote from each. Did I do it because it’s “that time of year” when many of us are getting a handle on the past to move forward? Did I do it because many people are writing “Best of” posts this time of year? Did I do it because I was interested in re-visiting what ideas surfaced this year? Yes, yes, and yes. And while I have done these “Best of” posts in the past, I still questioned whether to do it this year.
I think it’s like the extra decorating you did or that batch of cookies you will probably bake. I wanted to.
For me, taking a look back gives me an understanding of where I’ve come from and helps me better envision the future.
To your point, though, I am all for letting go of the unnecessary. And simplfying this time of year is especially enticing. So thank you for the reminder.
Ah, my devious plan to pull people in is working!
And to the point about your post this week – your writing is always SO thoughtful and meaningful, and it’s clear that your intent is to invite people to consider other perspectives. Clearly, it has meaning for you too. I was speaking more to the “listicles” that really don’t have much to say to us other than: do something or buy something. Envisioning a better future is always a good thing. Thank you for commenting, Linda.
First of all – I loved the picture and the reason you gave for using it – we all need that smile.
I also related to the forced priorities. Some days it is all about triage.
This morning when I went out into my living room, I saw that my fountain had stopped running. I took a deep breath and after wiggling the plug a few times I just said to myself, Well that will have to take a number. I can’t get to this for a while.
Ooh, I like that phrase – “Take a number.” Sometimes the annoying tasks just have to wait, don’t they? I hope you can get your fountain back in order when possible, and thanks for stopping by and commenting, Jonda!
Thank you for this, Sara. I’ve been looking at things I’ve been doing the past couple of years and thinking about how they align with my ‘Why’. Lots of deep thinking about where I am now, where I’ve come from, and where I want to be.
As an aside, I watched the recent Dolly Parton special. In that she sings a song where the refrain is ‘whoever you are, be that.’ I loved it and determined that I’m who and where I’m meant to be and that is just fine.
There’s so much messaging and so much advice out there – I contribute to it, I know. I love that you advise us to listen to our inner messaging and tune out the rest. Have a Happy Holiday season. I look forward to seeing you when you return.
I adore Dolly Parton – I actually got to meet her once years ago when I was teaching at the high school she graduated from. Amazing human, and she definitely seems to have her Big Whys sorted out. And yes, I contribute to the messaging and advice. I think it’s natural to want to help people, but I try to step back when I can and check in with that inner messaging. Happy Holidays to you too, and thanks for commenting!
Great post, Sara! It’s so important to be aware of what our whys are. We tend to rush from task to task out of habit. Stopping and making an effort to say, “why do I want or need to do this?” will bring awareness and result in an answer. Happy Holidays and I look forward to reading your blog in the new year!
Happy Holidays to you too, Sabrina – I’m looking forward to reading your posts as well in the coming weeks.
Ooh! “manufactured prioritization” is such a powerful concept. This is a poignant and important post. Thank you!
Glad that the term resonates for you, Melissa! Thank you for stopping by The Stuff.
That concept of “Pivotal Tasks” is really good!
For me, at Christmas, those tasks are those that draw me closer to God. For me, this is what Christmas is truly all about. Everything else is extra. I’ve had years where I’ve let some things go, but I’ve never missed a Christmas Eve service. Maybe I’ve attended virtually, but hey, that was the only option.
It’s helpful to sort of rank your traditions and tasks to know which ones you would probably skip and not miss at all. I agree that your friend’s comment was so kind. As organizers, I hear the “I bet you were done preparing for Christmas months ago” kind of comment a lot. Some years I do get a lot done in advance, and others years, I don’t. I’m human, like everyone else.
And, your wreath is beautiful!
Thanks so much, Seana! I like your idea of ranking traditions. Christmas Eve services are part of ours, too. Watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” together is right up there too. In both instances, it’s the Big Why of family and connection.
Oh, Sara, how did you know I needed to read this right now? This morning (well, late last night) as I was finishing up a blog post, I thought, “Well, usually I do THREE posts about this topic at this time of year” and had been dithering over whether I really wanted to (I don’t) or should (and the answer is probably “who cares?”). I think you’ve clarified for me what I really want, and that’s to let go of the obligations I’m assuming I have, because I haven’t asked myself “why.” And since the answer is more, “Because I always have” than anything else, I’m going to put the task away. Thank you!
I tend to think I don’t have any of these kinds of self-imposed obligations because I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I hadn’t thought about it in terms of my end-of-year writing/blogging and other non-holiday tasks. You’ve opened my eyes!
Ah, this makes my heart happy. Not that you’re not writing (because I always love your posts), but that you had a moment of clarity that led to greater peace. Thank you for sharing that experience – I hope your year end is fabulous and extraneous task-free!
I am all about “the big why’s” for both myself and my clients. While I love a year-end wrap-up for all of us, it can be a lot to process during this busy time. Knowing what is a priority and how it is connected to my “why” ensures I enjoy the season and all other times of the year with my family.