It seems like every year we are pushed to make New Year’s resolutions. Everyone is doing it and you should too because you need improvement, or else. I am picturing a 4-inch tall Egyptian slave driver with a whip on my right shoulder.
The thing is, New Year’s resolutions do not work–at least not for me. Every year I would make the same resolutions and nothing ever really came of it. Have you ever had that problem? If you haven’t, let us know your secret in the comments.
A few years ago I saw a post about forgoing a resolution and instead picking a word of the year. It sounded like an intriguing idea. Basically, you pick a word and use it to choose the direction of your year. I have done this for three years now and it has been a bit more successful though it hasn’t been without its challenges.
2012 was a crazy year. I was going to school at night and working full time early in the morning. In September, I started dating my now hubby and I suddenly had to have a life too. I had a lot going on and something needed to change. I chose the word “simplify” to remind me to jettison some unnecessary tasks to make life better. I even set it as my phone wallpaper as a constant reminder.
2013 set out to prove to me how challenging a word of the year can be. In February, J and I got engaged and in August, we were married. We planned a Pinterest-inspired DIY wedding and reception in 6 months on a really small budget. That is the exact opposite of “simplify”.
To make matters worse, I broke my ankle on the second day of the honeymoon and was on a knee scooter for most of 5 months and couldn’t work. We had a third-floor apartment which I didn’t move in until after the honeymoon. We couldn’t have made it without the help of family and friends.
Despite all of these challenges, life did get simpler. It was partly because I couldn’t get out easily or reach anything in my kitchen. Mostly, it gave me time to think about what was important and what wasn’t worth my time.
After the challenge of 2013, I tried to pick a safer word: organize. We were in a fair-sized 2 bedroom apartment with way too much stuff for the given space. We had just combined all of our stuff and added some great wedding presents to it all. We needed to downsize duplicates and find ways to store what was left.
This was really interesting at first. It is very difficult to move stuff around from a knee scooter. It got a lot better after I could walk. We did downsize our stuff and had a garage sale. We made about $600 in a weekend and donated the rest so we didn’t have to deal with it. It worked really well, so of course there has to be a hiccup.
In November, we bought a house. It is great and has plenty of room for all of our stuff. Of course, we had to move everything and start all over finding places for it to belong. This is the kind of challenge I like, but it is still ongoing.
Settling gets a bad name. Probably because of the idea settling for lesser things. This is more the idea of settling into a routine. The last few years have had a lot of change and now it is time to calm things down and enjoy life for a season. This has been my favorite word so far.
The problem with settling is that it, too can bring change. Most things in our lives were going great, except for my job. I had been there for 13 years and hated it. Everything about it was unsettling and I needed a change–so I quit. I figured out a way to work the budget so we can live on my husband’s income, at least for a time. Things are somewhat up in the air right now, but I feel more settled than I ever have.
2016 feels like a turning point. Things are changing and I want to choose the trajectory. This year I choose to “refocus” on what is important and go for it.
We have been cutting back on activities. I am not yet looking for a job and we have been downsizing our activities at church. This is the year where we choose what we want to be involved in, instead of having things choose us.
I may or may not get a job right away. I would like to find a way to be my own boss, but more importantly, I would like to find something I like to do. We will be choosing some important projects in the house and the garden. We will also be re-thinking our church involvement and volunteer projects. With any luck, we may even expand our family, though it hasn’t happened yet.
God only knows what a year will bring. It may be totally out of my hands, but I feel better having a direction to aim for. Have you ever tried this? If so, what is your word?