Rhythms for a new year
How resolutions look for this non-goal-setter
It feels like a long time since we last spoke, but really, it’s only been a few weeks. The holiday season bends time like that — a strange bubble unto itself.
And now we’ve popped into this new year. Mirabai’s still on winter break and we’re clutching at her final few days at home. But even as we glare at the approaching airport dropoff (it sucks every time), we’re all ready for some non-holiday normalcy.
Rhythms vs. habits
Airport goodbyes aside, I love early January. Life feels like a crisp, blank page and I’m holding the pen.
The hopeful “fresh start” energy is palpable, and so is my lingering disquiet (at times, full-blown dread) about the state of the world, especially as we head into an election year.
We’ve got bold plans (to be discussed in future newsletters!), but at the moment I’m focused on incremental change.
I feel a deep pull toward refining my rhythms — the stuff I already do every day or week.
I long for more solid anchoring in a set of behaviors that can reliably steady and fortify me in the months ahead.
Notice I said rhythms and not habits. Perhaps it’s semantics, but to me habits smack of productivity systems, whereas rhythms feel more soothing and sustainable. No buzzwords, no charts or trackers, just how do I want to show up for myself and my family, as a writer, as a friend? followed by what repeatable behavior will make that more likely?
Where I’m starting (again)
Here are a few examples. Nothing earth-shattering here — if you’ve known me a while you know none of this is new. But this feels like a good way to start again.
How do I want to show up? Calm.
What will make that more likely? Get up earlier.
I’m most energetic and alert when I’m up early. But I’ve gradually been sleeping later, which has led to my starting many days already scrambling. This week, I’ve set my alarm 15 minutes earlier. Once that feels doable, I’ll bump it back another 15 minutes.
Earlier to rise means earlier to bed. I’ve set an 8:30pm “wind down” alarm on my phone and enlisted Rael to help me honor it; i. e., if it’s after 8:30 he won’t let me watch just one more episode of Fisk.1
How do I want to show up? A better writer.
What will make that more likely? Read more good writing.
I love reading but too easily default to the New York Times and Substack apps rather than picking up a book. The irony, I know.
To encourage myself to read more books, I’ve hooked my earlier bedtime to nightly fiction reading. I’m starting with a book a bunch of friends have recommended: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (affiliate link/policy).2
Less phone interruption
How do I want to show up? With better focus.
What will make that more likely? More mindful phone use.
My phone is the multitool that assists with a vast array of daily tasks, including these rhythms! I’m trying to maintain this friendly framing rather than treating my phone like the enemy. (Operative word: trying.)
I’m starting by leaving my phone on Do Not Disturb in my bedroom till I’m done with my coffee and morning journaling. It’s only been a few days and already I’ve bumbled on this and paid the price focus-wise. It’s so hard!
I’m not expecting an overnight makeover. When I drop the ball one day, I’ll try again the next day.
This is less about improvement than it is about alignment.
I’d love to hear how your holidays went, how your new year energy is shaping up, and anything else you feel like sharing. If you’re new here, say hi!
And if you have any fiction recommendations…
Comments are open to all for one week after publication; then for paid subscribers only.
Good stuff elsewhere
- shared a beautiful cadence for integrating self-care with care for the world. It dovetailed perfectly with my pull toward stronger rhythms.
How do we maintain hope and energy while fighting darkness in the world? We stay focused on our sphere of influence.
- talked about how choosing where you direct your attention isn’t ignoring or denying the world’s problems; it’s the skillful broadening of your vision to include joy and beauty.
Super-helpful:’s explanation for the chronic (and confusing) numbness many of us feel when right now. (NY Times gift link).
Also resonant: Mira Jacob’s visual essay attempting to make sense of this strange world we’re navigating (NY Times gift link).
- has begun a year-long project I’m looking forward to following:
So glad to be among you again. Happy, happy New Year. There’s so much to talk about — I’ll see you in the comments.
About Parent of Adults
Parent of Adults is a newsletter & community by author Asha Dornfest. This is a place to keep each other company as we stumble toward (and beyond) the empty nest.
Subscribe now (free or paid) to get the next issue in your inbox.
Fisk is a quirky Australian comedy on Netflix. Have you watched it? It cracks me up every time and I can’t explain why given the basic setup.