I gotta admit that these first two weeks of January haven’t felt like the fresh new year I imagined.

It’s as if one day’s work blends into the next without a through-line. I still show up, do my tasks, but nothing is really adding up. It feels unsatisfying and a bit random.

Overall, I feel distracted.

Can you relate?

Usually, at the start of the year, I have a clear view of what I want and some firm ideas on how to get there. 

In the last week of 2020, instead of my usual planning time, I took a much-needed road trip with the family to see the Grand Canyon and southeastern Utah.

(Fun note: you can check out videos of the epic vistas on my personal Facebook page.)

Redrock is a happy place for me and it was amazing to enjoy it covered in snow and in freezing temperatures. Suffice to say, I learned the value of a trusted pair of clamp-on spikes for the winter hikes!

We returned from our trip on January 3rd and I spent the first week of the new year in re-entry mode: settling back into household rhythms and work.

I felt immediately “behind,” as it took me longer than normal to finally review and integrate 2020 in my usual fashion. But with determination, I completed this critical year-end process.  

As for my 2021 planning, I got sidelined. 

Instead of making room to work on my vision for 2021, I distracted myself by learning the latest strategies from this expert and that…and then, the Capitol riots happened. 

I was no match for the dramatic scenes unfolding before me. I think I spent an entire day watching the news reports and catching updates as they came in. 

Usually, I tune out the daily news, but the riots were shocking and the implication of them even more so–and I just couldn’t look away.

Even with all this disruption, I still expected myself to get into work mode, start making plans, and taking action. I felt the pressure to be productive and the hot expectation of “not losing time” and starting the year off “right.”  

But, let’s face it. When the energy isn’t there, you can’t force it, and every attempt I made to get clear came up empty.

Then, I woke up with this insight. 

What if my block was a result of what I was letting into my environment–specifically my headspace?

What if the insatiable hunger for know-how and news was ultimately NOT serving me?

What if my head was filled with voices that weren’t mine?

I realized that if I didn’t take a break from them, I had little chance of hearing my own voice and guidance.

So I tried a quick experiment. 

First, I abstained from all new information which meant not watching the news and not taking any more classes, I also limited my social media. Then, I scheduled some early morning writing sessions so I could put my voice on the page –before I could be influenced by others opinions or needs.

To my great relief, the results came quickly.

After my first free-write, I saw that I DO have access to my own clarity and I can focus. It just takes shutting out the noise so I can hear myself think.  

During this process, I also wrote down a list of my fears. Without knowing it, my un-named fears had been contributing to my confusion and need for distraction.

Have you been feeling similar?

If so, don’t beat yourself up for not having your sh#t together and give yourself some time and space instead.

I invite you to try this ritual of self-listening and reflection. It takes 20 minutes, max.

Grab a journal or google doc and answer these questions. Write without editing. Try to keep your hand moving and your fingers typing stream of consciousness-style.

What do I think? 
What do I care about? 
What do I know? 
What’s true for me right now? 
What am I afraid of? 

From this grounded and open place, you’re now ready to build. 

Let this New Year help you tune into your own counsel. Let the “shoulds” and fear fall away.

Remember, you’ve got time –and with the extra space you created focused on your own voice–you now know better how to use it!

Happy 2021.