You will see the theme of reflection throughout my January posts. Last week, I mused about my reading life in 2020. Today I want to focus on using these first weeks of the new year to think and set my intentions and priorities.
I started using the first few weeks of January for reflection after reading an article in the old Victoria magazine back in the 1990s. Each January, the magazine would print a “winter journal”, focusing on different topics about the season. One year, there was an article which talked about using the quiet winter months for reflection and thought. This resonated with me, and I have viewed January as a time for thinking about the new year ever since.
Years ago, I chose September as my calendar start since it coincides with the start of school and many activities after summer vacations are done. This crisp season seems right for jumping into a new calendar.
January, on the other hand, is the time that I stop and think about priorities, values important to me, and intentions. It’s a quiet month. The holidays and their busyness are over. Often, the weather is more conducive to staying inside with a hot cup of tea than for gardening or taking walks. Even the trees are quiet with their leaves long gone and their branches stark against the sky. Birds and animals are asleep or slow this month. Even my garden is asleep, sometimes under a coverlet of snow.
So I take my direction from the rest of nature and become still inside. What is going to be important to me this year? What do I want my life to look like? How will I focus my reading? My writing? My use of time and energy?
As I ask myself these questions, slowly ideas form in my mind as to where I want to focus. I write down these big ideas, from which I will derive the quarterly, monthly, weekly, and even daily intentions that land in my planner.
Laura Vanderkam, a time management expert that I particularly admire, often talks about the importance of being intentional in using your time. There are millions of things we can choose, but we have a limited amount of time. How we want our life to look, things we want to accomplish, priorities in our spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual lives that we want to set–all of these are the things we use to choose how to spend our time.
I will spend the next few weeks, curled up in a comfy chair in my bookroom with pen and paper in hand, reflecting on my progress over the last year and creating or sustaining the intentions for this upcoming year. This will help me to know if I used the time I have been given wisely the next time January rolls around again.
Do you have a specific time to set your goals or intentions? Are you intentional in your use of time? I’d love to hear about your choices in the comments below.
4 thoughts on “January is For Reflection”
I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying reading your writings and listening the pod casts you suggest and the books you list! It’s also fun to know you are a fellow Victoria fan and gives me pause when I just recently considered tossing some of them( but I,too enjoy pulling them out at various times and being reminded of the joy of slowing down and enjoying what God teaches me.
I just listened to the podcast about Sense and Sensibility- I’m a late comer to Jane Austen and related to the comments of initial readers -“this is boring-“ but now hope to listen to this podcast the next time and pick up one of my Jane’s and have a better understanding.
So please keep posting!
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I’m so glad it is helpful to you, Sandie. I love Victoria. I found the very first issue in the grocery store and subscribed on the spot. It was my companion through many years before it changed hands. I still read it (did you know that the library subscribes to the digital version!), but it’s not the same as it was when Nancy Lindemeyer was the editor.
It is often helpful to find a guide when starting a new author to read. I hope you learn to love Jane Austen. She has many lessons to learn in her books as well as being satisfying to read.
Thanks for commenting. It’s always nice to know that people are reading.
You and I are on the same wavelength! I started taking off the whole month of January for rest a decade and a half ago when we moved to Virginia — the short, dark days made it a perfectly natural way to fit in with the season.
This month I’ll be reading to replenish my own stores before I go back to teaching Shakespeare in my local co-op (they started back this week, but I told them that Shakespeare wouldn’t restart till February). I also like to spend the month tidying up around the house, decluttering, reshelving books that have gotten scattered over the last several months . . .
Why am I not surprised that we are on the same wavelength. I think of you as one of my kindred spirits and look forward to having centuries to talk in heaven someday. I wish I could take your Fairie Queene class. One of these years I am determined to read it all, not just Book I. Every time I see it in my shelf, I think of you.
Enjoy your month of reflection, replenishing, and reshelving.