Friday, 5 January 2018

Transitions


The New Year’s resolution is the usual bedfellow to the turn of the calendar year. It arrives just when winter is gaining momentum and most of us are exhausted from trying to carve out some much-needed time for rest and family and the celebration of various winter holidays. This is the first year that I have not felt compelled to make resolutions.

Usually I am rolling through a batch of potential resolute ideas from November onward and creating a mental shortlist of these for the moment when I sit down and make a list of the things I dearly hope to achieve / introduce / quit in the oncoming year. Perhaps it is because 2017 has seen the biggest personal seismic shifts in my life to date, that I did not begin the almost unconscious cycle of narrowing down resolutions as the year came to a close. From huge change--the surviving completing of my PhD, and getting married--to smaller pinnacles such as presenting at my first international conference, and the renovation of a significant portion of our house, I have not been inclined to seek out more change. 

And so it is, nearly the end of the first week of the new year. And what am I to do without new resolutions? On a brisk walk through the chilly backways of our neighbourhood today, I remembered the first seminar I attended as a doctoral student in 2010. It was called ‘Getting Started On Your Thesis’, and the professor who ran it spent quite a while discussing the technique of ‘noticing’. Her point was that, as we began to research, we should ‘notice’ ideas and questions that arose, and from this, we could begin to find our unique paths.

I realised today that I have spent the past three weeks, over the bridge between this year and last, noticing my life: what I do with my time, my weaknesses (cookies and tv series), where I need to spend more time or better time focusing on things that matter. By paying attention to habits and needs, I have been developing a system of guidance for myself. So although I have not created a list of resolutions, I have started to keep track of how often I do the things that matter to me: meditate, write, study French, exercise, read, connect with family, as well as when I do things too frequently: watch tv, eat out instead of cooking, fall back on laziness when I have a touch of a headache or the weather gets rainy.

Now that graduation is over, and the stress of the final year of my PhD has started to recede, I can see that I need to allow restfulness in the coming year. A noticing of priorities as I stop being too busy and stop pushing myself too fast. Without resolutions for 2018, I’m giving myself room to breathe, to be on the ebb tide of the constant rushing toward a completed thesis, then viva. And I’m noticing that it is a welcome thing to let one year ebb, because in this transition, I sense the stirrings of the next project, the next deadlines, and the next new adventure to come.

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