Pressing Pause Podcast episode 39 Are you feeling peaceful or pressured at the start of this year?
Welcome to Pressing Pause, the podcast for overthinkers.
I’m Gabrielle Treanor and I’m here to share with you ideas, inspiration and actions to empower you to spend less time overthinking and worrying and more time enjoying your life.
Hello and welcome to episode 39, the first episode of 2019. I hope you’re well and your year is beginning to unfurl nicely. I find January to be an odd month, really, because it’s a month of contradictions. Because it’s the start of the new year we feel like we’re supposed to be setting new goals, starting new habits, turning over a new leaf, and we’re bombarded with lots of messaging telling us the same thing. But, in the northern hemisphere, it’s winter. It’s cold, the nights are long, some days it seems to barely get light, we’re still recovering from the busyness and perhaps overindulgence of Christmas so finding the energy to set resolutions and launch ourselves into the new year can feel really difficult.
The media is full of ideas for how you can make this your best year yet but at the same time there’s also a backlash going on with posts on social media from those refusing to review last year or to set any goals for this year and declaring that it’s all too much pressure.
And it is. Feeling like you must have a plan for 2019 figured out by now or else you’re doomed to a year of failure is a huge pressure. And, equally, being told you shouldn’t hop on the bandwagon of reflecting on the past year or think about your intentions for the coming 12 months feels like pressure too!
So what should you do? Well, for starters, and regular listeners will know what’s coming, let’s drop the should. You could look back over 2018 and review it, thinking about what went well, what you enjoyed, what didn’t go so well and what you learned from it. You could reflect on the past year if you choose to. And you could get a shiny new diary and make plans for 2019, set goals and make a schedule if that’s what you want to do. Or you could not. You could do absolutely nothing about looking back or looking forward if that’s what feels right for you.
Should doesn’t come into it. If other people want to share what they’re doing this month that’s great, but it doesn’t mean you have to do it too if you don’t want to. This is all information you can choose to act upon or not. Like this podcast, you are completely free to listen to what I share in these episodes, take it all on board and put my suggestions into action. Or you can listen and choose to do absolutely nothing more. That’s your choice and no-one, including me, can tell you otherwise.
What I like about all this talk of reflecting on the past year and planning the next is that it gives me ideas. I can see the approach other people are taking, how they’re going about it and the tools they use, and I think about whether that seems like something that could be useful for me. Some of it appeals, some of it doesn’t, and I can choose what to leave and what to investigate further. At one point I did feel a bit overwhelmed by all the emails I was getting and posts I was seeing about how to reflect and plan with questions and workbooks and journal prompts. So I picked one, it’s the Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019 journal by Project Love in case you’re interested, and ignored all the rest.
Something else I’ve seen talked more about each January, and it’s something I’ve done for the past several years, is choosing a guiding word for the year. Now, just like some of the other ideas, I’ve seen posts from people championing the idea and others dismissing it as another pressure. If it’s not something you want to do that’s fine, of course. I thought I’d share a little here about how it helps me without feeling like a pressure, in case it’s of some use to you.
So, the whole reason I choose a word for the year is because I want it to be helpful, to be a support. I don’t see it as something that I have to stick to out of some kind of duty, or for it to make me feel bad or guilt me into action. I choose a word as a guide for each year to remind me of my intention for that year.
There are different ways you can go about picking your word, Susannah Conway has a free five-day e-course called Finding Your Word and Ali Edwards has a project called One Little Word. I’ll link to them both in the show ntoes. I have a pretty simple, straight forward approach to picking my word.
I think about how I want to feel in the coming year, what I want to do and how I want to be in the world. I might just sit and ponder it while having a cuppa, or mull it over while I’m walking the dog or write down my thoughts in a notebook. I notice the words that have cropped up a few times in these thoughts and what other words might describe my intentions. If none of these words feels quite right I might check the thesaurus to see if it brings up a different word that could work. I don’t put pressure on myself to have a word chosen by a certain time, I just let them percolate until one keeps popping up as that’s probably the word to pay attention to.
An important part of thinking about how I want to feel in the next year is focusing on the want, not what I think I should feel or how I should be or what I should do. I don’t want to start off the year feeling obliged to be a certain way out of shame or guilt. I don’t want to start any day beating myself for not being or doing something I’m not. I want to learn and develop and stretch myself but that will happen by encouraging myself kindly, not by walloping myself over the head with a word that makes me feel bad.
A word that feels inspiring, challenging and stretchy in a good way (not a terrifying way), a word that feels like it’s going to be a positive reminder, one that will support me in my intention for how I want to feel and be and what I want to do, is what I’m looking for. A word that makes me smile and look forward with excitement rather than dread. I don’t see any point in choosing a word that’s going to do anything but help me.
So in previous years the words I’ve chosen have included connect, balance, share, positive and grow. I started choosing a word for the year when I was running my stationery business and I can remember what my intention was for each year from the word. Sometimes the word has been mainly related to work but they’ve always connected to life outside of work too. I like to choose a word that has a meaning to all areas of my life but you might find it more helpful to have a different word for different parts of your life. You might find it too difficult to settle on one word so you have two or three. Or maybe one main word with a few supporting words to back it up.
Choosing a guiding word for the year is a tool to help you so whatever works for you, however that may differ to how I or anyone else does it, is what’s right for you. My only real piece of advice with this is to choose a word that will support you, not one that in time could make you feel guilty or inadequate or that you could use to beat yourself up with.
Last year the word I chose was visible. It felt pretty stretchy last January but also exciting because I knew that I wanted to share myself and my work more openly with you and the word visible would help me with that intention. And it sure did! Among other things I started this podcast and I was a guest on other podcasts, I created a private Facebook group where I do live sessions every week (I’ll link to it in the show notes so you can join the group) and I ran a couple of in-person workshops. I created a beginners’ meditation course called Exhale, ran my gratitude and mindfulness courses, and I completed my life coach training so you can work with me one-to-one. It wasn’t a flawless year, not everything went as I hoped and I had to deal with disappointment too. I share more about my 2018 review in a blog post which I’ll link to in the show notes.
So, what is my word for 2019? Well, after ditching the word I thought I wanted but which I realised wasn’t at all right for me, I’ve chosen the word light.
Much of last year was about stretching myself, doing new things, learning, experimenting, laying down foundations and I worked really hard. I tried really hard. This focus on pushing myself (however kindly) got stuff done and I'm glad of it, but it also meant that I gripped pretty tightly to the high expectations I had of myself in 2018. I took things more seriously than perhaps I needed to. At times I let myself get stuck on results and bogged down in my thinking – the very thing I talk to you about so much!
So this year I want to loosen the grip, to hold my life and work a little more lightly. Now, don't misunderstand me, I'm still absolutely serious about creating the best content I can and supporting you to the best of my ability here, in my Facebook group, in my courses and working one-to-one. But I don't need to strive so hard and it doesn't have to be a slog. I'm inviting more ease and playfulness into my life and work.
Here’s how I see the word light guiding me this year:
• To feel lighter as I go about my daily life and work, bringing a sense of ease, delight and choice to my actions, and to trust in myself
• To be more lighthearted in my personal life, creating more opportunities for fun, adventure, joy and creativity
• And to shine a light for you so you can start to see the way forward to feeling free from the weight of worry and overthinking so you can feel lighter, calmer and happier.
My guiding word for 2019 feels good for me. It's supportive, intentional and I'm a little bit excited about its potential. I'm beginning to flesh out some of the ideas I have for what I want to create and the services I want to offer to support you this year and it's getting the tingles going, in a good way!
I’ve been sharing my word for the year on Instagram and Facebook and if you’ve chosen a word I’d love to hear about it so do email me firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Instagram where I’m @gabrielletreanor. All the links I’ve mentioned in this episode will be in the show notes that you can find at gabrielletreanor.com/podcast
And if you’d like more support on starting the new year with less guilt, pressure and stress, and more ease, calm and kindness for yourself take a look at my 7-day email series The Warm Embrace. Go to gabrielletreanor.com/newyear or follow the link in the show notes.
Thanks for listening, until next time, lovely people.