Did anyone else watch the clock cross its annual threshold and feel a bit underwhelmed? I am surprised that I have come to feel this way, because I am Scottish, and New Year when I was growing up was a very, very big deal.

In Scotland, New Year was a much bigger deal than Christmas. In fact, Christmas day only became a public holiday in Scotland in 1958. There’s a very interesting article on this from The Scotsman.

I remember moving to London 30 years ago and being dumbfounded at how lavish the celebrations for Christmas were and how minimal they were for the New Year. I think nowadays this has largely evened out in both locations.

From my adolescence I remember the whole household being involved in the top to bottom cleaning of the house, which included polishing silver, washing out cupboards and cleaning mirrors. Even the cleaning cloths had to be washed and hung out to dry before the clock struck midnight. This was a bit of a downer for my poor my sister, who’s birthday falls on New Year’s Eve.

My mother would slump into the New Year, utterly exhausted. Only she didn’t get to rest. The ‘first footing’ then began, a tradition where friends and family visit each other after midnight, bringing coal or shortbread and a bottle of spirit to share, with with the aim of bringing good luck. This often goes on until dawn. Then my poor mum had the special meal of the day to prepare and serve. This is why the Scottish need an extra public holiday on 2nd of January!

I have not maintained these traditions, but have always previously had a deep seated, fresh start, attitude to the threshold of a new year. So, I started to wonder how I could make this a more useful marker on my calendar. Rather than come up with over ambitious ‘New Year’s resolutions’, maybe I could find a more grounded way to set myself up for 2019. I came up with the following ideas. Maybe you would like to try them too:

Review the year

I use my diary to track what I have been doing, so it’s a good place for me to see in one place what I have been up to over the previous year. I’m always amazed that I’ve forgotten many of the things that I’ve done. I go through it and consider what worked and what didn’t.

I usually make a few notes to remind myself of what I have learned and how I’ve developed new skills. I also jot down what I don’t want to do again, or how I would deal with things differently if I found myself in a similar situation.

I don’t limit this to work, it’s good to see how some friendships have expanded and others have contracted. Reviewing it like this can let you decide if you want to change anything going forward.

You can use this as a starting point for setting or updating goals and we have great resources on our website including a Goal Setting for 2019 webinarrecording and an ‘Overcoming Freelance Challenges’e-course if you want to do that next.

What can I throw out or let go of?

Just as the New Year is a time of beginnings, I also see it as a time of endings and like to set aside a day to see what I can throw out or let go of. I have a habit of accumulating things I am going to read when I have the time. I find it very liberating to admit that if I have not found the time to read them, I am not going to, so I bin or delete these items.

I sort out clothes or ‘treasured possessions’ that are either taking up valuable space or gathering dust. I once read an article that said you should thank the item for the pleasure it has given you, then let it go. I find it definitely makes it easier for me. What I love is the empty space this creates in my home.

I also take this opportunity to purge things that hover on the outskirts of my to do list such as people I always mean to spend time with but don’t get round to, new jobs I am going to pursue and chores I am going to get around to. My reasoning is that if any of these were truly important to me, I would have done them. Taking them officially off my list of ‘must do’s’ is incredibly liberating.

How can I be kinder to myself?

I have a habit of putting what everyone else wants before myself. I have spent some time this year thinking about how I can be kinder to myself. Things like saying no to friends and family when saying yes to them means saying no to something important for me.

I’ve decided to put some ‘me’ time in the diary, i.e., time where I don’t necessarily have an activity scheduled, where I can sit and think, read a book or go for a walk. Having it in my diary means I am far more likely to stick to it.

What new thing can I try?

I recognise that I am getting more stuck in my ways as I get older. I used to be pretty adventurous and now find I am far more stuck in my routine and comfort zone. So, I have made a list of new things I would like to try or things I would like to do more of, which includes:

  • Joining a dance class
  • Learning something new that is completely unrelated to my work
  • Taking country walks on my own
  • Doing something artistic

However you decide to start 2019, I wish you all the best. If you decide to try some of these ideas, do let me know how you get on.

Happy New Year!

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