January 1. This day is so reflective. So pensive. It’s a day when people tend to look back at the year before and think of the things they wish they could do differently, and make a bunch of pledges to themselves to really affect that change in their lives.
I’ve seen a bunch of posts circulating Facebook lately where people who normally go to the gym are preparing themselves for a busy month, where those who start running or going to the gym will show up for the first month and then never be seen again. I used to be that person.
I used to do something called Power Sheets. For the past two years, during my Christmas break and the month of December leading up to New Year’s, I’d sit down and do some intentional goal setting, decide on who I wanted to be by the time I was closing up the coming year, and what I needed to do to get there. I picked one word to define my upcoming year, picked some Bible verses to go alongside it, updated my vision board in my kitchen, and wrote down all my rationales for all my goals. I laboured over them in a very real way.
I tracked alongside those goals all through 2017, into 2018, and then quit in March. The process almost felt ingrained by that point and I felt like I was in a head space where I could keep track of my own goals without having to tick off boxes to prove it to myself.
I decided that this year will continue along the “I don’t need a book to help me set my goals” theme, but as 2018 was coming to a close I did decide there were a few things I’d like to work on. The one word thing always feels kind of cheesy to me, but it really allows you to narrow your focus down into one broad stroke where other goals can naturally thrive, rather than become overwhelming and too much.
One of the biggest things I learned in my year and a bit of intentional life planning was that there’s nothing magic about any given date. There’s nothing that says January 1st has to be the day you start making changes. If you’ve stumbled upon this post in June, on a rainy day on the 17th (for example), then let June 17th be the day you think about where you’d like to be when 2019 wraps up. One concept that really stuck with me through all of that was the idea that if I have an idea of what I’d like to have accomplished by the time I’m 80, I can’t get there if I don’t make smaller goals and work away at them. I did an about-face with the way I’d been eating and treating my body on July 3rd of 2018. If I had waited until January 1st to set some “New Year, New Me” goals, I wouldn’t be down 65 pounds and considering investing in hiking shoes because it turns out I like hiking….. if there are waterfalls at the end of the hike…..
So….. I guess I’m still goal setting in a way, even though too much of it feels oppressive, but I don’t want to be left in the same place I was coming into 2019 when I get to the end of it, so it’s good to set a FEW goals.
I have picked one word for 2019. I was torn. I waffled back and forth for a bit between “Present” and “Listen”. But I think that Present encompasses what Listen tries to communicate, but goes a layer deeper, which is what you’re going for when you’re only picking one word.
As an Enneagram 7, I find that my tendency is to lean into the future so hard, usually in anticipation of what’s to come (but sometimes to escape what’s right in front of me), that I miss the moments I’m in. I can get so caught up in what I’m looking forward to, what’s coming, what’s ahead… that I miss what I already have. It can make it hard to enjoy what comes, because the pattern doesn’t stop just because what’s in front of me is phenomenal. There’s still a “well what comes next?” feeling that persists. It’s what prompts me to plan vacations before the one I’m on is even finished. It’s likely what prompted me as a kid to run countdowns of days between where I was on the calendar and something I thought was going to be really awesome. (lol. as a kid. I still do this. who am I kidding?)
So, to sum up, 2018 has been a pretty great year. My word for 2018 was Strength. I definitely think I’ve gotten stronger this year. Physically, emotionally, spiritually — I think all around I’ve taken steps in the right direction. Ten years ago, if you’d told me this is where I’d be though, I think I’d have been disappointed. If at 24 you’d have shown me the life I was going to have, I would have looked ahead to it with dread rather than with glee and excitement. I certainly haven’t accomplished all the things I thought I would. But I’ve accomplished some things miles beyond what I ever thought I was capable of doing, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that had I not ended up here.
So, as I wander into 2019, I plan to be Present. I plan to be grateful, and to appreciate the little things that are right in front of me. That probably means fewer countdowns and less screen time. It probably means saying no more often and setting healthier boundaries — both on myself and on others. It surely needs to mean letting go of some of the anxiety I hold onto because I want to control things. And it definitely means that when I feel a nudge that I’m pretty sure is Holy Spirit trying to convince me to do something, I should listen… But all of those things feed into the goal of being Present. So in 2019, wherever I am, that’s where you’ll find me. I promise it’s less nomadic than that makes it sound.
What’s your word for 2019? Do you set goals? Do you make resolutions? Do you stick to them…..