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How to Conquer Your New Year Fears + Boost Productivity After the Holidays

Holiday Hangovers--we've all been there, right? And no, I'm not referring to the hangover you get from that midnight champagne you enjoyed a tad too much of (although sometimes I've fallen victim to those hangovers, too...) The hangover I'm talking about is that fuzzy feeling you get in your head right after the holidays end, when you don't know which way is up and it's impossible to focus. What day is it? What YEAR is it? What am I supposed to be doing again?

For most people the start of the New Year can hold so much excitement, fear, doubt, and confusion. Personally, I'm not quite sure where to start, myself. So as I've slowly built up momentum since January 1st, I thought it'd be beneficial to share my journey these past few weeks, as well as some of the tips I have for getting your groove back and tackling the New Year with a clear head, confidence, and intention, as well as a renewed zest for life, work, health, and beyond.

 

MY NEW YEAR FEARS

Photo credit:  We, the Light Photography

If you don't know me and my journey personally, my name is Adele Foster and I'm the Owner/Founder/CEO/Boss Babe behind Foster Handmade. I started this business with the hope of bringing joy in self-care to those around me because I'm OBSESSED with the belief that self-care is the most important ingredient for good mental health and overall happiness. 

I started Foster Handmade in February of 2019, which means that as I'm writing this, my business is still an infant at less than 1 year old. My first year in business included A LOT of learning, researching, testing, successes, failures, late nights, and barely squeaking in by deadlines. I'll be honest, I had NO idea what I was doing and while overall I'd call my first year a success, there's A LOT that I want to change in 2020. And that's where the fears come in.

When I started this business, I did so without really having any set goals, aspirations, or plans. It was scary, but it also gave me a lot of freedom to see how things went. If you don't have a plan or goals or aspirations, then there's not really any way to fail, right? But while that may be true and while my first year in business was like the Wild Wild West (anything goes), I also found myself struggling to stay on top of things, realizing at the last moment that I didn't have enough raw materials to complete my production goals, and frequently pulling my social media marketing out of thin air. It wore me down, and worst of all, it kept me from doing any of the really cool things I wanted to do because I was constantly putting out dumpster fires.

So at the end of the year, I decided I wanted to start 2020 off with an actual PLAN, not just play guessing games all year because that's not good for business or for my sanity. I sat down and let myself dream the biggest dreams--for an entire day I focused hard and I wrote goals about growth, deadlines, organization, offerings, and finances. At the end of that day I felt accomplished.....and completely overwhelmed.

What if the goals I set weren't big enough? (It was, after all, my first time setting goals I cared about, so I had absolutely zero context for what was reasonable. I didn't want to sell myself or my dreams short.) Or worse... What if I set these goals and I FAILED? As a perfectionist with anxiety and low self-esteem, that right there is my absolute worst fear in the world--the "F" word.

Are you in the same boat? Are you struggling to get back into a productive routine or to set goals that feel real and achievable? Or maybe you're tired of setting "Resolutions" that you know you just won't stick to. Here are some of the things I did to set myself up for success in the New Year and conquer once and for all that "F" word.

 

1.  GIVE YOURSELF TIME

This may feel counter-productive because you came here for tips on how to boost your productivity in the New Year, but trust me--this one matters. Have you ever heard the saying "you can't pour from an empty cup"? I always thought it was such a cliché saying, but after starting a business while my husband was deployed to Afghanistan for 7 months, building that business on my own, putting myself outside my comfort zone by seeking out opportunities to sell my products at markets, running my first Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale, and then following that up with a hugely successful holiday market, my cup was E-M-P-T-Y. 

I was fulfilling holiday orders through Christmas Eve, so my holiday season flew by and when it all ended, I felt like the holidays happened to me. I felt robbed of my holiday season, and while I was so proud and excited by the pace of my business, I was also completely spent, exhausted, done for. 

The hard worker in me wanted to power through that feeling of exhaustion. I wanted to keep pushing because in my mind, stopping meant the certain death of my business. But something in me told me to take a beat--to relax and enjoy some time with my husband and pets, and to get my life in order before I started up again. For once, I trusted my gut and I gave myself a few weeks to slowly get my heart back in it. 

If you feel like you're pouring from an empty cup, take a little time to take care of yourself. Revisit some things you love doing for YOU, and throw out the idea that it's selfish to take time for yourself. Self-care isn't a luxury, it's a necessity. If you're exhausted or overwhelmed, trying to power through that feeling will result in resentment, frustration, even more overwhelm, and sub-par work. If you're feeling drained, it will show up in every single thing you do--whether that's parenthood, work, fitness, health, or hobbies. If you take some time to rest, to reevaluate your goals, to find your footing, and to ground yourself, you'll be able to approach the new year with a clear head and the energy to hit the ground running. 

 

2.  START SMALL

If looking at your list of goals for the New Year feels a little like you're looking down the barrel of a gun, this is one you need to focus on. With the New Year comes the setting of New Year's Resolutions--you know, those lofty, ambiguous "goals" we all set that are usually abandoned by March. Even if "Resolutions" aren't your thing and you opt for actual, well-researched annual goal setting, it can still be overwhelming to look at a long list of Big Picture items and not know where to start. 

As I mentioned before, this year was my first year really tackling the idea of goal setting. I'd kind of done it before, but never really with any resolve to complete any of them, so this year I wanted to be more intentional and I came up with a lot of great goals that I'm really proud of and excited for. That said, I also had zero idea of how to actually get started. That's when a friend of mine came to the rescue. 

My friend suggested looking at each larger goal and breaking it down into tasks you can complete each month, week, and day to bring you one step closer to that Big Picture. For example, I set a rather ambiguous goal to "get healthy" this year by losing one pound each week until I reach my goal weight, drinking more water, cooking more meals at home, and exercising regularly. Kind of hard to know where to start with so many action items. So here's what I did...

I set a goal to drink 32 oz of water per day for the first week and log it into my FitBit app. The next week I would aim to drink 64 oz of water per day, and the next week I would drink 96 oz per day. I increased this goal until I reached my overall goal of drinking 128 oz of water per day. I did the same for the other aspects of my "get healthy" goal so that each week felt manageable, but if it got to the end of the week and I didn't accomplish one or more of that week's goals, I would re-evaluate and adjust if needed--key word being "adjust". 

It's easy to see goals as a hard line--something that you have to meet, otherwise you've failed. That's not how goals work, and it's important to remind yourself that it's okay to adjust your goals throughout the process. If you set a goal and you blow past it really easily, then challenge yourself to reach further if it suits you, or set another goal that you've been wanting to tackle that maybe you didn't think you could take on at the same time. And if you set a goal and you don't meet it, all you need to do is adjust. Look at your current trajectory and recalculate your goal based on that. Goals are meant to help you push yourself daily, so if you're making effort toward that goal, you've already succeeded. Take a moment each day, week, or month to look at how far you've come and BE PROUD of yourself.

 

3.  FIND YOUR PEOPLE

I'm an introvert at heart. I love spending time with my people, but when it comes to  large crowds and spending a lot of time with people I don't know very well, I tend to need quite a bit of time to bounce back. That said, I NEVER thought that I'd seek out situations where I'd be around people I don't know very well, and even more so, I never thought I'd feel comfortable sharing my insecurities, fears, and struggles with people I haven't known for very long or have only met through my social media presence. In the last few years, though, my local friend group has gradually thinned out as people have dispersed across the country, so recently I've had to step outside my comfort zone and build a new local network.

Best. Decision. Ever. 

No matter what your goals or struggles, nothing beats having a community--those people you can be honest with, grow with, support, and who will support you right back. Surround yourself with people who will have your back while you reach for new goals and keep you honest about your progress. If you don't know someone who fits that description, build a new network and seek out that supportive environment. Neighborhood or city fitness groups, mothering groups, local entrepreneur groups--they're out there, along with so many others. Facebook and Google are great tools for finding local people that share similar interests, struggles, and hobbies, and while it may feel awkward or uncomfortable at first, believe me, if you look for them, you'll find some amazing new people to connect with. You won't regret having people to lean on when things feel tough. 

 

4. REPEAT THIS

To say I'm a perfectionist is a BIG understatement. In the past, I've struggled with the idea of moving forward if all of the pieces aren't perfectly lined up and planned. It's paralyzing. No one is perfect, no work is perfect, no process is perfect, so the mere concept of perfectionism is a fool's errand. So why are we all striving for perfection with such tenacity? It could be that we think wrapping ourselves in perfection will make it impossible for us to fail, it could be that we are afraid of criticism, or it could be that we don't want to re-do work once we've done it once, so we aim for perfection before ever putting that work out into the world. It could be a mix of all three of those and it could also be something I've yet to think of. 

I can say with absolute certainty that my perfectionistic tendencies have held me back many times over. That's why, when I discovered the following quote, my life shifted drastically. 

"Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction."   -President Harry Truman

Any time I'm having trouble knowing where to start or I'm frozen in fear, I repeat this to myself. For example, the old me would never have shared this blog post. I'd have edited and edited and edited and edited until my fingers were raw, the post made no sense, and I'd given up halfway through. Flash forward to now, and as I've written this, anytime I felt myself seeking that unattainable perfection, I repeated this quote to myself.

I KNOW this blog post is not perfect, and I'm sure there's so much more I could have said on each of these topics, but sharing this information and my journey with you is how I improve myself and my writing, it's how I connect to you, it's how I reach new audiences, and hopefully it helps even one person start their year with intention and self-love. No good comes from me NOT sharing this information, so why wait?

If you feel stuck, or if you feel as though you're watching your dreams and goals slip away from you because everything isn't absolutely perfect, then repeat this to yourself and take that first step. Nothing is permanent, so you may as well have a hell of a good time in whatever you choose to do with your life.

 


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