Starting with a Blank Page

Where to start?

A blank page is the best place to start… but how do you get to it?

The beginning of December has always been a period of winding down for me. Even as a child, I was encouraged to tidy up, clean and otherwise de-clutter my bedroom. At university, too, it was a time to finish up projects, coursework and, in my final year, put a pin in ongoing experiments. This was all done in preparation for the winter break.

As a self-employed adult, I’m fortunate enough to find myself in a similar position. I always take 3-4 weeks off work over the middle of winter and spend some much-earned time (rather than money) on myself. Finishing up projects, reviewing the year gone by, making sure everyone has paid their bills, and brainstorming ideas for the coming year are all essential things to get done before even the first thought of relaxing can happen!

The idea is to start the new year refreshed, renewed, and with a blank page. This means I can use the month spending quality time with my partner, my dog, my family, my friends, and my hobbies, without any* niggles or worries in the back of my mind.

(*Well, there will be some; anxiety doesn’t let you off that easily!)

It’s not easy to finish things and move on. You can’t just sweep everything off your desk and be done with it. There will still be things to pick up. The key thing is to get things done (or part of a thing done) so that there’s nothing to pick up. It’s also very important to think about whether you would actually benefit from not finishing off a project. Sometimes it can be better to decide that maybe a certain thing isn’t worth pursuing after all and letting it go completely.

It’s all too easy to find yourself drowning in unfinished business.

If you use to-do lists, make sure you’ve checked everything off before you add even just one more thing to it. Being busy isn’t necessarily being productive. Decide truthfully and assertively if a particular project or task is something you really want to do or pursue. Don’t be afraid of saying no. It’s all too easy to find yourself drowning in unfinished business.

I’ve spent many years allowing unfinished things falter and flounder and instead of decisively either finishing them or letting them go, I’ve let them spoil and rot. It’s horrible and upsetting when this happens.

I get an immense sense of completion and satisfaction when things get finished. It’s an amazing and fulfilling feeling to be able to “sign off” on something and let go of it. It’s freeing. It’s far healthier than keeping hold of something that isn’t working.

So if something is completed, cross it off! If it’s not working, and you’re able to without dire consequence, tear it out! Do what you can to get to that blank page because you’ve earned it.

But be warned: A blank page isn’t there to be thoughtlessly filled up. Don’t get caught up in needlessly finding things to fill up your time for the sake of it or what might be expected of you by others. The reason I give myself that extra time at the end of the year is so I can think very carefully what I want to do with my future. The time ahead is precious and limited. What do I really want to do with it? How should I best spend it?

With a clean slate and a clear head, and the time to think about it, the answers to those questions will eventually reveal themselves. Maybe a new hobby? Perhaps a new place to find adventure?

A blank page can be anything you want it to be; it’s the ultimate freedom. Just don’t rush to scribble all over it. Think carefully about which words you want that page to ultimately have written on it. Don’t waste the opportunity you’ve earned for yourself, don’t wast that page.

When you start with a blank page anything is possible.

–Graham (@grhmthmsn)

Starting with a Blank Page

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