Winter Survival Guide 2020/21 - JANUARY

Previous posts can all be found here. Follow along on Instagram @fjcoaching for regular nudges.

The theme for January is CREATE. And also, a little bit of CURATE - originating respectively from Latin roots meaning to make or bring forth, and to take care of.

Things to think about

If you have followed this series since the beginning it would be fair to note that ‘create’ isn’t really a new theme. Creating something from scratch – a doodle, a meal, a hobby – has been integral to the themes of both move and indulge. It turns out that you CAN learn to draw (really well) even if you hated art lessons at school. The thing is, you don’t have to be an artist/chef/Coco Chanel; spending time on something practical, using your hands, can be such an antidote to the day, whether its excess technology or excesses of other people’s opinions. There’s something cathartic about making something that wasn’t there before - including putting your thoughts on to the page - whether or not there is any intention to share.

Before you claim that you’re not gifted with a paintbrush or sewing machine, consider that ‘create’ can also apply to habits and routines. The first step is to notice how you spend your time and how that makes you feel, then deliberately do more of the positive things. It might be an early alarm, or offline thinking/planning time in the morning. It might be a particular eating plan or exercise regime. It might be sending birthday cards on time, or writing an actual letter to the friend in Australia that you could text any time but somehow never get around to (hello, Katie in Sydney..!).

A new year is often heralded as an ideal time for new commitments and fresh starts. Some people appreciate the kick into action while others can find it overwhelming. Personally I’m wary of allowing the calendar to dictate goals, aims or other aspirations: is not every day a worthy fresh start? As I’m fond of repeating here, now is always a great time to try something new, whether it’s January 1st, the middle of April, lunch time on Wednesday or any time in between. However, if it works for you - and you can avoid being sucked into the vortex of those who are more interested in your money than your wellbeing - then go for it. Perhaps the rest of us can be inspired by the essence of newness and the opportunity that affords, without worrying about the date, or indeed spending any money.  

Things to do

1.       Create mental space part 1: review your social media and other information feeds and edit them according to what serves you best. You can be informed and connected to diverse sources without feeling judged or inadequate. Create some clear boundaries, so that - contrary to all the common wisdom – you create a safe place of interesting news and ideas, entertaining trivia and constructive advice. This is easy, quick, painless and free with clear benefits – not the most challenging change you will make this year! 

2.       Create mental space part 2: try silence. I have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Avoid filling every waking moment with stimulation and sound, including the radio or background music. Even the most extroverted among us benefits from clear space, which allegedly is when creativity and ideas are mostly likely to flow.  

3.       Curate (see above: ‘take care of’) your physical space thoughtfully – either to ensure you are surrounded with items that you love, or indeed just to enjoy the space, which is a luxury in its own right for most of us. This one is a bit harder if (like me) you find it hard to let go of things as well as memories. The best approach is of course to practice. Marie Kondo provides a practical structure for this: you start with the things that are easy to discard (clothes that no longer fit, books you will not read again) before moving on to things with greater sentimental attachment. Then you can learn how to say thank you, and goodbye (wish I’d learned all this as a romantic teenager, but that’s another story!). William Morris is credited with saying “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Obviously you don’t have to tackle your whole house, but you can start with one drawer, or a corner, then a room, and expand from there.

Tools and resources

-         Article on the benefits to your brain of periods of silence: Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think (

-         Interesting article by Lou Stoppard on the controversy around the appropriation of the word ‘curate’: Everyone’s a Curator Now - The New York Times (

-         Tidying Up with Marie Kondo - on Netflix

-         Funny, interesting and thoughtful contributions to your social media are of course entirely within your control. Here are some of my current favourites on Instagram, for different reasons: revkatebottley, nancybirtwhistle, charliemackesy, vamuseum, bbcgoodfood. OBVIOUSLY add fjcoaching for your regular (not quite daily) nudges on this series!