The New Chapter: Simplicity and Growth in 2017
2017, a new year in a new city. Now that I’ve pulled the shrink wrap off the year and am starting to get the pieces out and play around with 2017 a bit, I want to share some things that are working for me right now.
While I’ve gone back and forth through the years on whether or not to set resolutions or goals for the new year, this year I felt pulled toward holding myself accountable in some way, for what I want for myself and my ecosystem as I move through the year. In December I found these six simple questions, which helped me not only define some of the intentions I wanted to work with in the new year, but also gave me permission to not call them resolutions.
In the name of accountability I also set up a relatively simple weekly and monthly review system. My system looks like this:
- Weekly Review – spend 10-15 minutes on Sundays reflecting on the previous week
- Monthly Review – spend 10-15 minutes on the first day of the month reflecting on the previous month
And because I’m notoriously forgetful, I’ve also created weekly and monthly reminders using Wunderlist, which is helping to form a habit around doing these things consistently.
(I use Evernote to track everything, but you might find using another app, or even pen on actual paper works better for you)
In the weekly reviews I write a few words (no more than 10) to capture what I’ve done to move forward toward with each intention, even if that means reporting I’ve done nothing. As an example, one of the experience intentions I set for myself is to cross the finish line in a triathlon, and one week’s bullet point included that I’d signed up for for a triathlon on August 26, but the other three weeks were left blank.
One week I signed up for it, but the other three weeks saw no progress because the triathlon is in August and my goal is to finish, not compete for a top-whatever finish.
This is where the monthly review comes in handy, which lets me take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I see that while I’ve made progress in registering for a triathlon, there hasn’t been any other movement otherwise.
If it were an event in March, I might ask myself a) is this really an intention that’s important to me (and what specifically is important about it); and b) what specifically am I willing to do to create intentional movement here? In this case, a) yes (I want to experience the thrill of competing in three disciplines in a single race and crossing the finish line); and b) I’m willing to swim indoors at least once in February to get the feel for the distance. Micromovements, although small, are still forward progress.
So far I’ve made progress in every intention I’ve set, and I’ve also had to remind myself that forward movement doesn’t mean only doing but also—and more importantly—being.
Something that helps me with being is my phrase for the year:
Honor the relationship and the rest will fall into place.
For me, honoring the relationship is a two-way street. In the example of my intention to complete a triathlon, it means I need to treat both the triathlon and myself with respect. I need to train according to my goal of crossing the finish line, not someone else’s goal of [triath-all-the-lons]. This means proper rest and recovery after training. This means healthy foods in my body to fuel the training and the recovery.
Honoring the relationship is never about just doing the thing. It’s about being the person the relationship needs in order for said relationship to be and remain healthy. I want a lasting relationship, so this doesn’t mean just for today (although sometimes, that’s what even a lasting relationship needs), but also planning for what this relationship might need if it’s going to survive the long haul.
I’m also allowing these intentions to be malleable. I set these intentions in December with an idea of what I wanted to get out of each intention. If I find it’s not having an impact that makes sense for me or it’s creating anxiety to try and honor the intention, I’m giving myself permission to either tweak or nix the intention altogether.
Case in point, my experiential intention to visit with my CA friends, be it in Chicago or in CA. The intention was set around maintaining the experience of these friendships IRL. It’s an intention that I’m finding is just not realistic for me right now. It’s not realistic for me to travel often enough or stay long enough to make the trips much more than a superficial visit. It’s also unrealistic to expect friends to travel to Chicago simply because I have this intention on my list.
So I’ve changed the intention to: stay connected with my CA friends. The intention was always about staying connected to the experience of friendship with these people who have been an integral part of my life. The simple shift in verbiage allows me to stop feeling guilty for not being able to connect with my friends in person, and start feeling good about experiencing those friendships from our current places and perspectives. And who knows, it may shift again, there are 11 more monthly reviews to go.
I’ll continue sharing my learning with you as I go through it, and I hope you share your own thoughts, learning, and insights with me as well.
Cheers to you and your current chapter.