I’m a big fan of personal challenges. Some are truly beneficial (eliminating refined sugars for two weeks before Christmas) and others are questionable tests of my sanity (not spending any money for an entire month, aside from groceries). I like mixing things up in my life and seeing what I’m capable of achieving, whether short-term or long-term.
But New Year’s resolutions are hard for me. Rather than pinpoint exactly what I want to accomplish, every year I end up with unachievable goals and expect instantaneous results. Back when I was an avid blog-reader, I noticed a lot of bloggers set a “word of intention” going into a new year. Essentially, it was a personal mantra to carry with them for the next 12 months and help guide their life without setting strict boundaries.
The whole “word of intention” thing always seemed kind of hokey to me, but as I think about what I want out of 2016 it seems like the most attainable and motivational way for me to break into a new year. I’ve done some thinking over the past week or two, and I’ve set my word for 2016:
In my personal and professional life, I feel like I am on the verge of some big breakthrough. I don’t know what form it takes, or what it means, but I feel something brewing inside my heart. I already know 2016 will be a year filled with big changes (new city, new job, new living space, etc.) but I want to harness this positive energy and get the most out of this year that I possibly can.
For me, I feel best when I am creating. I relish creativity on so many different levels and I like that “create” is a verb that’s versatile and adaptable to a lot of areas in my life. Here are some examples of ways I plan to create in 2016:
Create a new life in Chicago
The number one priority on my list for 2016 is moving to Chicago to be with Sam. We see each other quite often, driving back and forth between our two cities, but one of our cars died last week and with only one car between the two of us, it means a smaller chance of being able to see one another on a regular basis. Mostly, for me, it means upping my job search, applying feverishly, and tweaking my cover letter and resume for every position as I search for full-time employment in the big city.
Sometimes I daydream about my life in Chicago: riding the L, the warm glow of street lights on a cold winter’s night, navigating streets by bike, and learning about the history of this metropolis. I know it’s not always a very kind place, and city-living isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but I’ve got an open (and hopefully not too naïve) mind about our move. Let’s hope I can still feel that way when the time comes to leave home and join Sam there permanently.
True, I am not yet living in Chicago, but my heart is there. It’s a drastic change from my small-town sphere up north. I know change is difficult, I’m doing my best to accept this with open arms. I’m nervous and anxious but overwhelmingly excited to be removed so far from my comfort zone. If being a twentysomething is all about pushing personal boundaries and taking risks, this is precisely what Sam and I need for the next change in our lives. I can’t wait to see what kind of space we create for ourselves in this new place!
Create for myself
The older I get, the more time I reflect about all the art I made when I was younger. I went through an avid postcard-making phase that lasted well over six years. As a child, I was always painting, drawing, or writing short stories. Stacks upon stacks of art projects, home videos, and poorly-rhymed poems once littered my bedroom.
These days, I’ve still got all the tools at my fingertips, but I put them towards other people’s efforts: nonprofits, my bank, fundraiser benefits, social media campaigns…and while these are things I love doing, none of them are simply for the joy of creating. Or the joy of making something that turns out ugly and bad but I can laugh at it because it’s my own little secret, not something I have to get approval on from someone.
In 2016, I want to go back to creating things that make me happy, just because I want to make them. Maybe it’ll be a revival of the postcards; maybe I’ll take to my typography notebook again; maybe I’ll settle for just coloring the “adult coloring books” for Christmas. I’m not sure what form this takes, exactly. The only rule is that it has to be for my own self-gratification, not because someone made me do it.
Create time for little things
There are so many excuses out there for why I don’t get things done, and I’ve used most of them. The internet can be a major time-suck. A few months ago, Sam and I peeled the lid off Pandora’s Box (aka Netflix) and I’m in the midst of a handful of shows now. Suffice to say, I’ve been a big media-consumer lately.
The truth is that spending a lot of time in front of screens is my biggest personal roadblock to creativity. Cashing-out on the couch and watching 2-3 hours of television or mindlessly clicking through the internet leaves me feeling fatigued, raw, and useless. Sometimes it’s ok, but when it becomes a habit I only recognize how much time I waste. I have enough time in the day, but sometimes I spend it doing something easy and mindless instead of engaging my brain and sending happy-happy endorphins through my body.
So, I’m going to focus more on creating time for myself to do the things that really make me happy instead of just absorbing stuff from the world. I like this quasi-resolution because it’s limitless. It could mean taking a long bath instead of a shower. Or maybe making the time for a long, easy run rather than cranking out a 23-minute, 3-mile sprint (well, sprinting to me). I can opt to get an extra hour of sleep instead of deciding that 10 p.m. is the perfect time to reorganize my closet. Better yet, I can read a book instead of scrolling through my beloved Snapchat before bed. I love you, Don Draper and Frank Underwood, but we should probably spend some time apart.
Create my manuscript
It’s been a work-in-progress for just over a year, and I don’t want to let another whole year slip by without a working draft completed of my novel. I don’t expect it to be perfect, and I don’t need to begin editing it in 2016, but I want to have everything down on paper. It will happen this year.
I don’t know if this is because Sam and I have been living apart for 11 weeks now or simply because I’m as crazy about my husband now as I was when we met over five years ago, but I want to create so many wonderful things with Sam in 2016.
We will create new memories. We will create trip itineraries for places we’ll visit. We’ll build our savings accounts, inside jokes, and knowledge about the world. Most importantly, we’ll create a deeper sense of trust, love, and understanding in our relationship, because that’s what we do best. Oh, and we will NOT be creating a baby this year, so don’t ask.
Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions or a word you’re using for a mantra for 2016? Share in the comments!