New year, new energy

Our Social Media Manager, Sarah A. Parker, likes to opine on all things social media from time to time, so we’ve given her space to do just that here on our blog. She’ll cover everything from the new and unusual to the outdated and annoying. Got something she missed our something you’d like her to cover? Find her on Twitter @SparkerWorks

Ah yes, it’s that time of year: You must atone for your holiday food and drink sins, you must set goals that spring you out of bed at 5am (is that out of enthusiasm or fear/panic?), you must achieve at all costs.  These are the messages that flood our social media timelines and every other media source for the next month.

But what if- and stay with me here- what if you did not achieve at all costs? What if you thought about how delicious those cheeses and cakes and cocktails were, but did not punish yourself for having enjoyed them? What if you set goals that were an extension of what you are already doing, so that you are more likely to achieve them instead of burning out completely and giving them up by the third week of January?

What if you were to harness the new energy of the new year without using it as a vehicle for impossible punishments?

This is what I am here for in 2019, and I hope that you are here for it also.

It is a very good thing to set goals- difficult, challenging goals- but it is often a dangerous thing to pursue them at all costs. There is only a certain amount of energy available to Do All of The Things. Some days work will get more of that energy, other days family or friends or hobbies should get more. I have found in practice that rather than a complete balance each day, things end up with a more seasonal sense of balance; running gets more energy when I’m training for a race, work gets more when a big project is on the table, family and friends get more during the holidays, etc. And it’s something we constantly have to renegotiate based on the expectations from everyone around us and from ourselves.

Take the energy of the new year and all it inspires around new beginnings and fresh starts and decide how you want to spend it, realistically. Don’t leave yourself out of it, either.

Ann Handley put it well in her final newsletter of 2018:

“This past year I’ve come to realize more and more that we need to focus on the value our work gives us. We need to celebrate the joy we get, not just the value it gives to others.

Not in a self-indulgent way. I’m not saying Marketing needs to ignore the audience and start publishing recipes for banana-nut muffins because you as a marketer really, really, *really* love banana-nut muffins.

But I am saying that we should add a spark of delight in whatever content we’re conjuring up on the job. Whatever email you send; whatever video you produce; whatever sentence you write.

(Or, if you aren’t a marketer, in whatever work it is that you do.)

Why? Not for money or applause or recognition or clicks or any external metric that comes after your work is out in the world. Just for the internal swell of pride that comes from knowing that you did your best.

Actually, that you did your best right now. Within the confines you have. Within the budget. The time. The mental energy. Your current skills. All of it.

This isn’t a pass to do substandard work. But it is an honest acknowledgment that all you can do it your best work within whatever limits you’re dealing with right now. Because, you know, there are always limits.”

There are always limits. There are always costs. If not today, somewhere down the road. Burnout is only one of them.

So harness the energy of the new year, but remember to make time for rest and reflection too. That’s when the real growth happens.

(And I don’t have a good banana nut muffin recipe, but I do highly recommend this One Bowl Gluten-Free Banana Bread recipe from Minimalist Baker. Add chocolate chips, and you can use regular flour if you’re not gluten-free. Happy New Year! I’ll talk about social media again next time, I promise.)

Photo by Crazy nana on Unsplash