January 2022 Message
January 13th, 2022
This Month’s Money Message: Pause
I used to work with an amazing woman who refused to make major life decisions in January or February. She swore that none of us (in the northern hemisphere at least) were thinking clearly, what with the gray skies, the prolonged cold, and the limited sunshine.
And right now, with prolonged pandemic fatigue, decision fatigue, and fleeting “still barely hanging on despite everything” moments of hope, her rule seems more apt than ever before.
So this month, let’s pause. Let’s not obsess about setting goals for 2022 or planning financially for long-term success. Let’s not add oodles of to-do lists to brand new (deliriously optimistic) planners. Let’s not reinvent ourselves or seize days or claim this as our year.
Let’s just pause.
Several clients shared trauma-like responses they experienced towards the end of 2021, and if my social media feeds and conversations with friends are any indicator, plenty of us are coping with low-level trauma-responses, even as we continue creating, surviving, parenting, and coping. And that’s okay. But that also means we’re not really in a position to plan. We’re in a position to pause.
If you are feeling motivated to do any of those optimistic fresh-start new-year things, by all means, don’t let me stop you. But maybe use pencils in those brand-new planners or plan with larger-than-normal contingencies in mind.
And of course, let’s still send invoices, check our bank statements, spend intentionally, and say yes to things that seem exciting. Our “pause” can be a maintenance pause, not an avoidance pause.
Here’s what a “maintenance pause” might look like in terms of what to know, do, and believe this month:
Know: What kind of pause you need.
You get to decide what “pause” looks like for you – including whether or not “pause” is a good word for you right now. Your pause might look more like a shift into slow motion, rather than a full pause, or it might include a full stop. Do what works for you.
Do: Notice if your brain finds space in the pause to think ahead.
Sometimes in the blank space we can find clarity. We learned this early on in 2020 with slower walks, more deliberate time spent with individuals, and a full reassessment of our values. Maybe you can find some of that clarity in this year’s pause as well. Just bring gloves on those longer strolls.
Believe: Uncertainty is okay.
Some of the trauma response is due to the ongoing uncertainty we all face. Will the event happen? Will schools remain open? Will I be able to travel safely? Will I get sick? It’s hard to operate in an uncertain space for a prolonged period of time. But uncertainty is okay. It’s not easy, it’s perhaps not what we would choose. But it’s okay. Focus on the certain and let the uncertain exist as you pause.
What We’re Doing
January often feels like the calm before the tax-season storm around here, so this month, we’re focusing on getting ready for the storm. Elaine headed to North Carolina to start the year with a group of entrepreneurship educators in the arts, and she’ll join the Artists @ Work program to kick off their fellowship expansion later this month. She’ll also kick off a new semester with some pretty fantastic graduate students… And maybe even pause a bit as well.
What We’re Talking About
Uncertainty. That’s what has been coming up in conversations with clients lately. Some are feeling exhausted by the uncertainty, some are looking for magic solution to combat it. Most are noticing that it is here to stay.
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If you’d like to chat with me to answer your own questions, feel free to find a time that works with your schedule.
It’s funny – A pause can feel so rebellious (although my younger peers might call this the lamest rebellion ever). But there’s nothing rebellious about taking the time you need – now and well into 2022.