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Life Lessons: Reframing January

hayley mcdonnell life lessons lifestyle the retreat the workroom Jan 16, 2022

By Hayley McDonnell.

January is seen by many as the most challenging month.

Is January as hard as we think? In Western culture, we are coming down from an almost month of fun and festivities, but alongside that, January brings us an expectation that there is a full year ahead to plan and enjoy. Yes, the decorations are down. Yes, it may be still 'cold outside', but the promise of a fresh start is the perfect way to start the year. Suppose January is so-called after the Roman god Janus with two faces to see the future and the past. In that case, it makes sense to acknowledge his other attribute as the god of the doors for ourselves as we can reflect and learn from the past and metaphorically walk through a new door to an even better year.

Whilst a sense of normality is regained through routine and day to day life, it can provide a respite from the busyness of December and be used as a reflective restful season. There may be a period of adjustment as your home realigns itself to a Monday feeling like a Monday and a weekend having a distinct feeling from the rest of the month. 

To bring some peace and serenity into your life and your home with connotations that this will have a similar impact throughout the year, here are some suggestions to do in January – at your own pace.


• Update your dairy, check birthdays, events, appointments, term dates, holidays, special occasions, online shopping deliveries or collections, dates to renew insurance policies, car maintenance, anything you can think of.

• Any January or February birthdays should be organised now and posted to the recipient. Buy any March birthday presents now and book restaurants or confirm dates with friends and family.  

• Make the first of your regular bank statement checks. Is everything correct? Are there any subscriptions you can cancel? Can you opt to have bank statements online only? 

• Everyone loves receiving post delivered through the door, particularly positive messages. Start your year of kindness off strong by writing thank you cards for gifts received and to those who hosted over the holidays. If you were the host at any time, you might want to thank your guests for accepting your invitation and mention a particular highlight from the occasion shared. 

• I am not a fan of resolutions. If you want to make a change, the best time to do it is right now, so instead, you may choose to create a new habit. It takes the pressure off and is, therefore, potentially easier to achieve. Every day you can tick what you have achieved and see for yourself how well you are doing. 

• Had enough of spending in December and the months leading up to the festive season? If you can be brave, you can take advantage of any sales – with the increasing amount of online sales you don't even have to leave the house. I have a policy that if I am bringing something into the home, two things must be removed to replace it. This avoids clutter and focuses on what I need, either buying or eliminating. However, this is a great time to stock up on Christmas wrapping paper, Christmas cards, and decorations at vastly reduced prices; they will come in handy next year as Christmas isn't going out of fashion anytime soon. 

• With the decorations all taken down and put away (ideally 6th January – Epiphany), there will be physical space to clear, tidy, and purge the house of unwanted clutter. While doing this, you may spot those little jobs that need doing. Write them in your diary with a specific date to focus you and provide more motivation to accomplish it. 

With an organised house, an organised mindset will follow and the prospects of a prosperous year too.


With memories of New Year's eve still fresh in our mind, perhaps consider other cultures worldwide and their unique traditions. These two are favourites as they offer a sense of hope of travel and friendliness with others.  

In Spain, it is customary to eat 12 grapes – one at each stroke of the clock at midnight on New Year's Eve. Every grape eater represents good luck for one month of the coming year. In bigger cities like Madrid and Barcelona, people gather in central squares to eat their grapes together and pass around bottles of cava.

In hopes of a travel-filled new year, residents of Colombia carry empty suitcases around the block. A wish for so many of us to fill our bags and travel again. 


Social: Who did you spend time with, and would you like to see more of? Add a date to your diary and make plans. Similarly, who didn't you spend enough time with and want to see more of?

Moral: Should we focus on staycations to reduce our environmental impact or travel to broaden the mind?

Spiritual: What is important to you personally this year? What can you do to bring this into your life? Do you need help with your business, personal development? Reach out to someone who can support you?

Cultural: Could you adopt either of these shared traditions with others to add hope and positivity for the year ahead?


Hayley McDonnell is a Personal Development/SMSC consultant and author intent on bridging the gap between countries, cultures, customs and ultimately people with “Global Collaboration” Her aim is to make our world feel smaller by connecting with our similarities and embracing our differences. She loves to travel and meet new people from different backgrounds, countries and cultures. You can find out more about Hayley here.





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