From: John Friedman
Sent: Friday, January 05, 2007 2:42 PM
Subject: The “First Week of January” Test
Greetings all —
So, with the first week of the year just about done, how’s it feel to be back from the holidays, looking out at a brand spanking new year — all shiny and new?
That’s the question I posed a year ago in an essay I posted to the Financial Health Blog. That essay talked about using the First Week of January Test to measure how we’re doing in terms of balancing what we love doing and what we do for a living/how we spend our days.
The idea here is that, for many of us, the first week of January is a very telling week. Are we feeling all excited with the possibility that a new year brings? Or are we feeling all crammed-in by being back in our normal routines? Similarly, are we feeling thankful for all the time we’ve had with family and loved ones over the holidays? Or are we happy to be done with all that and feeling like it couldn’t’ve been over with soon enough? Or a combination of all the above?
That’s what the essay from a year ago was about. You can read pertinent parts of it down below my signature, or you can read the whole thing — political comments and all — in the Financial Health Blog at:
Or, for those with long-URL issues, there’s the tiny approach:
If you’ve a mind to, please do measure yourself on the test by (a) writing a paragraph or two about all the different things you’ve been feeling this week, and (b) as part of that writing, assigning a number from 1 through 10 for how you felt this week, with 10 being sheer nirvana and 1 being the worst rut you ever dare to be in. Do that every first week of January from now on, and, by gosh, pretty soon you’ll have yourself a nice little record of how well you’ve been doing when it comes to improving the balance between what you love doing and how you spend your days.
From the initial blog posting at http://financialhealth.blogspot.com
The First Week of January Test
Let’s look at how all of us economic beings feel in the first week of the new year.
It’s good to do so because, at this time of the year more so than any other, we can all judge how well we’ve aligned our economic selves with the other parts of our selves. We can do that by seeing how we feel as we climb back into the saddle — back into our working selves — after being mostly off work for a week or maybe even two.
So how’s it feel?
Many of us find that climbing back into the saddle after being essentially off work for a week or maybe even two is pure torture. We’ve realized how much more we like life when we’re not doing what we do to be economic beings, and even though we might wonder whether we would find it as much fun if our lives were always like one big holiday break, we imagine that we could figure out how to make it great, and that, at the very least, we’d like to have the challenge.
Others of us find the climb back into the saddle tantamount to coming home, as, for us, being away from work is like being away from our selves — removed from that which is us. Those of us who feel that way probably figured out ways to be working here and there over the holiday, because not working is, in essence, not being.
A subset of us folks in this latter category feel that torture element especially strongly because for us the holidays means family time, and, in an unhappy twist, being with family is like being away from home.
A lucky few of us, though, are at home both when we’re at work and when we’re at play and everywhere in between; we’ve aligned our economic selves with the other parts of our selves (Schedule C filers and business owners note: when it gets harder and harder to distinguish between personal and business expenses, you are accomplishing something that is very good medicine for most people).
So as we climb back into the saddle after our time off, and as we stare at a brand spanking new year ahead of us, all shiny and fresh, we feel good on all accounts: we’re happy to be back at work because there are so many exciting things to look forward to, and to accomplish, in the coming year, just as we’re happy to have had wonderful time off with family and fewer accomplishings to check off the old list. Both are good; both are in balance; both feed the other; both make our world go ‘round.
If you are lucky enough and smart enough to get to that lofty state (methinks it takes both), then retirement takes on an entirely different meaning. Indeed, for those few who find the balance described above, the whole idea of a cliff retirement (i.e., the kind of retirement where one day you’re working full time and the next day you’re never going to work again for the rest of your life) looks risky, fraught with peril and just plain ol’ out of balance. Why come to think of it, it could even kill ya!
So as you sit there in your particular saddle the afternoon of January 5, 2006 (or whenever it is that you might be reading this), here’s hoping that you feel both (a) reluctant to be back in the saddle (because you had such a great holiday and want more more more) and excited (because you are so very much looking forward to making the year a wonderful one for your economic self, with much promise, lots to do, and lots of creation and good to be accomplished).
Here’s hoping, then, that both the rearview mirror and the forwardview window make you feel equally (precisely equally) smile-ful, that you feel equally (precisely equally) smile-ful when you contemplate both the social parts and the working parts of your days to come, and that your only regret (not often contemplated, but necessarily contemplated as you go along on your merry bliss-ninny way) is the fact of your own inevitable mortality. But that regret is for a day not today!