Over the past few years, in leiu of goal-oriented New Year’s resolutions, I’ve chosen words to serve as a guide for my year. Inspired by a few writers I admire, I’ve found this practice to be very meaningful for me. And setting it in writing here on the blog last year was quite powerful. I found that the words Decide, Attend, and Play stayed in the fore throughout the year. I went back to the post a number of times to gauge how I was doing. And, although I can’t say I always succeeded in meeting my own expectations, I do think that setting these intentions did affect the flow of my year. So, here are my words for 2014.
Focus: I like this definition of focus from Webster, “a state or condition permitting clear perception or understanding”. This will be a year of focus and mindfulness. Of thinking about what I am doing while I’m doing it. Focus on intimacy with my family and friends. Focus on the next steps in my career. The idea of focus is closely related to last year’s word, “attend”, but I’d like to take this concept even further. In order to be in a state that permits clear perception or understanding I’ll need to sift and winnow a bit. I’m learning to say no. I’m learning to focus in on a few projects that I’m passionate about. Perhaps even focus on myself a bit- which means more reading, more exercise, and more sleep (see below).
Accept: I’m a firm believer that individuals can affect change in this world through passion and a lot of hard work. But, there are also times in life when, despite all of our efforts, things just don’t go the way we planned. Life is imperfect. We are imperfect. And, I’m striving to trust the beauty and purpose in that imperfection. To let go of doubt and regret. There are some big things I’m hoping will go well in 2014. But, they are the kind of things that I don’t have a lot of control over. Sure, I can nudge a bit. But, then they will happen. . . or they won’t happen. I’m striving to “accept the things I cannot change” and trust that life is unfolding is as it should.
Sleep: Even though this is the first word I thought of for this year, I hesitated to use it. It seemed sort of, well, lazy. Perhaps a holdover from residency, I tend to think I can get by on less sleep than I really can. I often sacrifice it for other things and then regret it later. I’ve always prioritized my son’s sleep, knowing the huge benefits that being well-rested confers for kids, but I haven’t done the same for myself. After reading many convincing articles on the benefits of sleep (and feeling the impacts of too little), I’m ready for a change. I’ll be aiming for early to bed, early to rise this year. After a number of months of drowsy, unproductive late night activities, I’m looking forward to some early AM writing or yoga sessions. I’d like a few minutes to eat breakfast with my son instead of rushing out the door. To do this I’ll need to make some changes- give myself a bedtime, turn off the electronics earlier, cultivate rest.
All of my words, both this year and last, seem to center around living more mindfully in our increasingly frenetic and distracted world. So, I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my very favorite children’s authors, Jon Muth,
“Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side.”
What are your words this year?