Planning the New Year: 2021
Let's start 2021 already, shall we? I won't rehash why- we know 2020 has been a dumpster fire. You were there. I was there. It wasn't fun.
And January 1, 2021 isn't going to be some magic date when suddenly everything that made 2020 such a nightmare ends! So I decided to end my 2020 right now, and move ahead with planning my next year as if it's 13 months long.
I know, these might be fighting words for some people. But I have a history of doing my "new year's review and planning" work at various times of the year, so it works for me!
This is a process, and it takes me several days to go through it all so I don't wear myself out. I want to share my tools with you so if you decide to follow my lead and move into your next "you", you've got somewhere to start.
Step 1- Wrap Up 2020
First- I pull cards.
You don't have to do this. I don't always do this when I plan, even. But this year I did, and I think it really helped me.
I used this deck and asked 4 questions:
Next, I look back over 2020. Years ago I saved worksheets from Jamie Ridler Studio, about "Celebrating the Season that Was" and "Imagining the Season Ahead". Since then, she's expanded and refined her work into a "yearbook", but her original sheets still serve me well.
I also use an out-of-print New Year's Workbook by Maia Toll, I think from an early iteration of her Witch Camp. I've written more about the journey she took us on in previous New Year's posts, like this one.
Other tools you can use are Susannah Conway, Martha Beck, Hannah Bullivant, Tara Mohr, and more. This year I also plan to do Maia Toll's Winter: Journey of Inanna course again- it's an intense dive into shedding what you think you are and what you want to be, and laying your actual soul bare. I haven't gone through it in a few years, but I'm absolutely feeling it this year.
Step 2- Look Ahead
Much of the work I do to look over 2020, that I described in step 1, has looking ahead work built into it. Especially the New Year's Workbook- that's when I choose my WotY (Word of the Year)! This is one of my favorite exercises. The years when I've hung onto my WotY have been the most impactful for me. In full disclosure, I don't remember what my WotY was for this year, and only have a vague idea about where to even look for it...
Anyway, once I've wrapped up these structured practices, I start a writing journey. Many people call it a "painted picture"- simply, you imagine every detail of your life in one day of the future.
My step 3 will be detailed planning for the coming year, so I'm going to explore a painted picture of my life three years from now, in 2023. Three years seems do-able to me- five years is too big a leap, and I'm already planning out one year, and I like the number 3. None of this is an exact science!
I'll also go through Racheal Cook's Plan Your Best Year Ever challenge. It's a 5 day event, but I've done it a number of times now so I can skip over some redundant or extraneous (to me) bits.
The point is, by reviewing the details of 2020 and dreaming ahead to 2023, when I start to work on 2021 in the next step I'll have really grounded myself in the reality of where I've been, as well as oriented myself towards where I'm trying to go. I've spent a lot of time, as my business coach describes it, like an octopus in roller skates- going nowhere furiously. This is how I put myself on rails and pre-set my direction going forward.
This might be the best time for me to highlight one of the quotes I live by:
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
It is IMPORTANT that you not be too precious about all this! If you don't make a plan, you won't get anywhere. But making a plan is really about just starting your journey- don't get attached to the steps of the plan, because I can guarantee you that they will diverge from your expectations almost immediately.
This isn't cause for cognitive dissonance. We contain multitudes, including the ability to both make beautiful plans and allow them to be composted at any time. We have to make the plans and allow for change. We're not machines- we are nature.
Step 3: Get Specific About Next Year
Having said all that about planning, it's about to seem like I'm contradicting myself. Remember, we contain multitudes. Let's wade in.
Now that I've looked back and into the farther-off future, I'm ready to dig into what's immediately in front of me. I'm doing this with Racheal Cook, my business coach and mentor. In preparation for her Q1 CEO Retreat coming up, she's given us a bunch of steps to break it all down. Essentially, the steps are:
At the end of the retreat, I have a pre-planned quarter in front of me! I usually end up changing my mind or switching things around- remember, don't be too precious. The important thing is that now I'm not randomly or spontaneously making it up as I go along, and I can be confident that these are the right steps for me to take. I planned them with an eye to my bigger picture, even if week-to-week I'm not zooming back out to re-examine that picture.
This process will take me a few days, so I have time to rest and clear my head before diving back in for the next bit.
It's not the same every year, and sometimes I do it more than once a year. But In some capacity, at least every winter, I cast my memory back and my imagination ahead, then I stare down the upcoming calendar.
I know we're not going to talk about, you know, the dumpster fire. But I will say that adding in that last step, where I drill down into the immediate future and reverse engineer my goals into weekly tasks for my next quarter, saved my game this year.
I did her Best Year Ever challenge by myself in late January 2020, then joined her Collective and her virtual retreat in March. That means the Q1 retreat coming up will be my 5th run through for these steps, and all I can say is I can't believe this guidance and information has been there for years and I didn't know!
I usually don't regret not learning or experiencing something earlier than I actually do because I recognize that I wouldn't have been ready or accepting earlier- but not this. If you need to get your business in order, start with her Best Year Ever work today. This isn't an ad, I'm just that inspired by it!
So this is my New Year's Plan for 2020-2021, starting now. By December 1 2020, I'll be living in 2021 already. Wonder if that means I'll learn to write the correct year faster? But '2020' is so easy to type! If you have your own routine, or if you try mine and like it, I'd love to hear from you.
Note: some of the links in this article are affiliate links, though most are not. Thanks for supporting me.
Your Stiff Foot Joints
Pop quiz- how many joints do you think you have in each foot? Five? Ten or twelve?
Thirty-three. There are more joints in each of your feet than there are days in a month! Isn't that wild?!
Now, the total number of joints in the human body depends on some variables, including things like whether your call the plates in your skull joints, or when you're counting- babies have more bones than adults, which fuse together as we grow. In general, we have between 250 and 350 joints.
If we assume 250 joints, in an adult, counting only the places bones both meet and move, 66 foot joints is 26.4% of your body's total. That's over a quarter of ALL your body's joints that you're standing and walking around on every day.
Here's why I care- we don't use most of those joints. And just like when you take a cast off an arm and it's weak and thin, both the muscle and the bone wasted away, when you put casts on your feet they waste away too. This leaves you with weak joints, and a tendency to injury. And feet injuries quickly impact the rest of your body in not-good ways. When your feet have problems, the ankles, knees, hips, spine, and even shoulders can take on the work of moving you in inappropriate ways, and cause further injuries quickly.
But, wait, back up a few sentences, you say. Casts? On your feet?
Sure! A cast is something hard and immobile, that prevents movement. In the case of a broken arm, a cast goes over the elbow joint (or wrist or shoulder) so the joint can't move because that would pull on the break, preventing healing. In the case of feet, a cast goes over the feet so they don't have to feel things in the environment that are hard, sharp, cold, hot, wet, etc.
We call them shoes.
I get it- shoes are helpful, and they can look awesome, and there's lots of people that can't handle the thought of going barefoot in their own house, let alone outside. But we have to take off the casts to be truly strong in our whole bodies!
Yes, I'm saying don't wear shoes- but not all the time! I'm also saying, wear less shoe-y shoes, as much as you can. Here's what I mean:
In order to strengthen a newly-healed broken arm, you'll start doing "normal" things again but find that the weak arm needs to build strength back up. OK, you'll move that cast iron pan with the other hand. You'll carry that grocery bag with both arms. Maybe you'll ice it or rub it or elevate it at the end of the day.
But your feet, all the way down there, as far away from your brain as they can get? If you just start living your normal life in bare feet or minimal shoes, after a lifetime of wearing the stiff, structured ones, you'll be injured before you notice it. So we have to do this gently:
1. Wear thinner, flatter shoes more often. Get used to feeling more of the world underneath you
2. Stretch your toes, feet, and ankles
3. Wear yoga socks to start separating your toes
4. Practice lifting your big toes, scrunching and spreading your toes, pointing and flexing your feet, when you're barefoot
Don't just ditch your shoes and go full Hobbit- for starters, you'll never be allowed in a public space! But start paying attention to how stiff your feet are, how many ways you can move and stretch them, and how much work you can get them to do in your day. They'll thank you for years and years to come.
Work With Me to learn more
Is healing a system? Can you exercise it? Sure, I say!
I think we often understand healing, vaguely, as a process: there’s an injury, then thru some processes it’s fixed, and there’s no injury anymore. Broadly speaking, this is a perfectly OK understanding.
But have you ever had a road crew fixing pot holes on a road you travel frequently, and they just didn’t quite finish up? Sure, the pothole is filled, but now it’s a bump on the road, there’s loose gravel or something all over, water pools when it rains… but then you turn into a fancy neighborhood or cross into another township, and the roads are purrrrrfect. Smooth, even blacktop; crisp, bright lines; wide, even shoulders bicycles can fit on. It’s like a dream.
So what’s the difference between the town that has bumpy pot hole repairs and the one with perfect roads?
Resources. The time, budget, raw materials, and skilled workers to get the job done right, completely, and in good time.
I’m not here to bash local politics. Organizing things like road construction is well beyond my purview. But I can help you influence YOUR local resources, and encourage you to look to yourself- what resources are you providing to your own healing construction and repair crews?
Yes, healing is a process, and it’s one that the body often can’t do a complete job of because it’s so busy putting out fires (literally and metaphorically) all over. So providing enough resources to the systems that establish and direct the healing processes can help them do a better job, as can reducing the overall demand on the systems in the first place.
You Need Rest
A huge factor is successful fitness training (aka body construction) is understanding and appreciating the sheer value of rest. Things need to rest, settle down, and slot into place in order for them to become what they are supposed to be.
This includes you, too.
You need DEEP rest- darken your room, remove your electronics, and give yourself as much sleep as you can. Honestly, so what if you can go to bed by 8:30, or even earlier? The hours before midnight seem to count more than the total hours anyway, and who's actually judging you for taking care of yourself?
You need PHYSICAL rest- have a lazy morning. Put your feet up and read of an afternoon. Take cat naps. Indulge in a float tank or a salt room session. Get a massage. Watch a movie. Take a bath. Get in a swimming pool.
You need MENTAL rest- time when you don't think or plan or push. Schedule a day just to do the little tasks, like deleting emails, filing papers, organizing your books, sorting out of season clothes to donate or discard. Take a walk with an audio book or just listen to the birds. Garden. Journal for 15 minutes, no spelling or grammar or even spaces between the words, just whatever comes out of your head, then discard the paper. Wipe the light switches, the trim work, the door handles.
Your NERVOUS SYSTEM needs rest- put on some piano music, or whale sounds, or a rainy day youtube video. Get out a coloring book. Make something, however inexpertly. Stretch. Do yoga or tai chi. Chat with friends over ice cream or a beer. SHUT THE NEWS OFF.
You can’t fix a pothole without blocking the road. You can’t heal without interrupting our ceaseless pressure to GoGoGoGoGo.
You Need Resources
RESUPPLY YOUR CONSTRUCTION CREWS
When there’s physical injury, you need physical molecules to repair it- proteins, fats, fluid, etc.
So eat clean proteins, and collagen- we simply don’t make enough to overcome the damage this life does to us. Eat healthy fats. Drink more water. Get nutrient dense foods so your micronutrients are lavishly supplied as well- Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Sulfur, all the vitamins, all of it.
Drink more water! Your body needs water to deliver nutrients and wash away waste from your cells. Your body needs water to create the waste you eliminate- solid, liquid, and gas. Your body needs water to keep your membranes healthy- and your WHOLE digestive system is a mucous membrane.
Eat good fats! Every single cell in your body, your entire nervous system including your whole brain, and all your mucous membranes are made of fats. They're not the enemy, they're essential. My rule of thumb is if they're from something I recognize I eat 'em- like olives, avocados, coconuts, eggs, and yes, animals.
Here's a common question: Should you take supplements? A concrete answer to this isn't within my wheelhouse. But I will tell you, hardly anyone is harmed by a quality multivitamin, Magnesium, Omega 3s, and Vitamin D.
You Need Waste Management
IMPROVE THE DELIVERY AND ELIMINATION ROUTES
Have you ever considered just exactly HOW your body actually accomplishes healing? It takes two major, underappreciated systems: the Immune system and the Lymph system.
Think of the Immune system as Mission Control, and the Lymph as both an Instant Delivery and Waste Management system.
Read more about your waste and repair crews next week in Part 2
Meet Your Herbs: Rose
Ah, the Rose. You can probably name me 6 popular references to Rose from poetry and songs without even trying. What's up with Rose's popularity??
Like the rest of nature (humans included!), Rose isn't just one thing. She just does all her things so well! Yes, she's a pretty face with a heavenly smell! And the scent and taste of rose will soften and open a hard heart, which can be startling or overwhelming if someone's not ready for that.
But she also has thorns, for straight up protection. Don't just take from this beauty, she'll fight back- as she should. Plus, her leaves are a fantastic astringent, tightening loose or drippy tissues, the opposite of the opening and softening of her flowers.
A Rose person may have grown themselves too many thorns, trying to stave off the outside world. They might need some softening, some gentle opening, in the realm of the heart and the feelings. And holding themselves so stiffly, so apart from people can leave you cold and stagnant, so Rose leaves can help tone up tissues that aren't flowing right- maybe some in a bathtub, along with flowers, might help improve the quality of menstruation or varicose veins or sluggish lymph. And what a lovely experiment to try!
Fun Fact: I'm an herbalist and a movement coach. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one on TV.
This is a public space, so my writing reflects my experiences and I try to stay general enough so it might relate to you. This does not constitute medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss concerns with your doctor. Remember, however, that the final say in your wellness decisions are always yours- you have the power to choose, you are the boss of you.
And, some of my posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them I'll earn a few cents. Thank you for supporting my work.
This website is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not medical, mental health or healthcare advice. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose, treat, heal, cure or prevent any illness, medical condition or mental or emotional condition. Working with us is not a guarantee of any results. Paula Billig owns all copyrights to the materials presented here unless otherwise noted.