I’m not going to bore you with the personal goals I have set for 2016, but I will tell you that I’ve decided on the tone for the year and it was informed by three words that appear in my Dad’s veggie patch. SLOW. BREATHE. SMILE.
Finding a balance between the ‘big stuff’ such as career goals, creative or personal goals and the ‘small stuff’, such as feeling happy and energised in your day to day life, is a tough undertaking – often the big stuff dwarfs the small stuff and life can get a bit overwhelming.
I’ve been pondering this blog post for at least a couple of weeks – it’s been a good six weeks since I’ve posted. And as seems to happen at this time of year, I become paralysed in my contemplations. Releasing a full year is no small feat and I find that I am overwhelmed by the significance of it.
Perhaps that comes with getting older, and perhaps it comes with too much introspection – spending too much time thinking about how the year unfolded means that I project meaning on to things, that perhaps are not as important as my sentimental self leads met to believe.
But I find that I can’t let go, for what ever reason, and last year was the same. Writing that first blog post for 2015 took some doing. And here I am today, facing the same situation.
Many years ago, during a trying time, every night I’d fall asleep with the lamp on. Then I would wake up several hours later and switch it off. This happened every night for an extended period.
When I looked closely at this strange phenomenon I recognised that I couldn’t bring myself to switch off the lamp; it meant the end of an unhappy day. As things improved I realised that I didn’t fall asleep with the lamp on any more. It was much easier to say goodbye to a day that had gone well, knowing you would be waking up to another day full of optimistic possibilities.
I wonder why we hang on to negative feelings – for me perhaps it’s an eternal optimism; if I turn off the lamp perhaps I will miss the opportunity to make everything right again, or a least to make the day not so bad after all. I don’t want to miss the chance to fix things. But obviously, the time still passes and lamp on or off, the time rolls in to the next day. As with each new year. Ready or not, the new year arrives and the previous year passes.
Focussing on unachieved goals is not particularly helpful, as I find that I am reluctant to move in to the next phase, and so I am frozen in to inaction. After much contemplation and introspection I’ve realised that it is not at all helpful because the world continues to turn whether I’m ready or not. So I lose time and energy trying to claw back – who knows what.
2015 was an interesting year for me and I enjoyed some success around goals that I set at this time last year. By the time July came round I had achieved all the goals I had set myself for the first half of the year. Halfway through the year I wrote a blog post about checking in with yourself and your goals (you can read that here).
The only problem was that I wrote that post but then didn’t set any new goals for the second half of the year as I was busy with a big work project and was focussed on getting to thinned of it. I used to dismiss goals as being too corporate, and contrived and just not aligned with maintaining a creative life. But I see now how critical they can be.
I am currently reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. So far my biggest ‘take home’ is that small, incremental changes make the biggest difference. Focussing on the experience of working towards your goal, is as important as the goal itself. We learn more on the journey, than the buzz of achievement can ever give us. And that is another reason why goals are so important. We have something to work towards, yet the process is as enriching as the end result.
So my major goal for this year is to find the right balance between the big stuff and the small stuff. Last year I chose a word for the year (you can read about that here). So this year my word is BALANCE. And in seeking balance, I will make sure I go SLOW, BREATHE and SMILE. I’m going to draw inspiration from Gretchin Rubin’s monthly endeavours and intentionally seek balance. Each month I am going to check in with you guys and tell you about what I have been doing to bring balance to our household.
January’s activity has been holidays; rest and relaxation. So next week when the school year begins and work kicks off, I’m ready.
Do you have a word for the year? Have set goals or intentions that will inform your year?