I need a little more time than others to transition from Christmas to the New Year. As is the tradition lately, when my eyes pop open on New Year’s Day, we’re still miles from home, and my head and heart are miles away too. Instead of starting January 1 with intention and resolution and dreams, we're still caught up in the joy and merriment of Christmasing with the ones we love. And after the long drive home their is laundry sorting and dead Christmas trees and desperate searches for our routine once more. In all of this, there is no space for positive goal setting.
But this is my life, my rules. So I ease in slowly. I take the day of Epiphany in its literal sense and leave space for the intentions of the year to reveal themselves when I’m ready and not with the flip of the calendar.
When you have 51 hours in a car you have a good span of time to let the ideas ruminate as the farms, and cities, and rivers rush by your window. This is the part in my movie where the upbeat music is swelling, maybe something by the Eagles or Nick Drake or Head and the Heart, depending on the mood in my head. Maybe my hand is out the window moving up and down with the speed of the car. Probably not, its winter after all. I ponder the last year, and the priorities I see moving forward. I let words flow in and out of my mind waiting to settle on just the right one to be my guiding word for the year. It’s all so therapeutic. And then someone screams “SNACK! SHOW!” etc. and the music skips and we’re snapped back into the present scene of two blood shot eyed parents, two needy children in a state of too much screens and too much junk food, just counting down the minutes and miles until we can sleep in our own beds again.
Now a week has passed, the halls have been undecked, the vacuum smells like a Christmas tree, and the stuff that traveled with us from one city to the next has slowly made its way to a home of its own. There is more light in my home now, physical as the Christmas tree is moved away from the window, but also just in the feeling of less as the new year is upon us, with its hopeful future. Alright, 2017, NOW you may enter. Fill up the coffee cup, light a candle, gather the pens. Let the goal setting begin!
I want to take you through my process of picking a word for the year in case it resonates with you. But remember, your life, your rules. You do you in only the way that brings you joy and peace.
Words are life giving to me, as I’m sure many writers might say. I like to be surrounded by them, book quotes, song lyrics, speeches, affirmations. I like my eyes to rest upon a simple phrase in the rush of my day that might slow me down and remind me of who I am and what is important to me. So while choosing a word, I tend to start at a phrase first. I pay attention to a series of words that speak to me. This year, the words made me cry, which for me is always a good place to start.
I opened up this piece of art from Mike for Christmas and it spoke to me immediately. “Be the Heroine in your own Story.” Written across a page from an old dictionary, the words stand out, and inspire. I loved this message. BE. That is a strong guiding word. HEROINE. Evoking courage and strength and leadership. And STORY for its connection to writing but also a beautiful way to think of this one life I’ve been given. I knew immediately this phrase would sit on my desk for the remainder of the year and be my guiding courage.
Once you have a phrase, the next step is to look up the definition. You might be surprised by not only how the word is described but also the different meanings it carries that you might not have considered. It also might lead you to change your mind or settle on a synonym you like better.
This year much like before, I thought I had my word before something else grabbed my attention. The word Heroine made me think of Brave. That was what I wanted to focus on this year. I wanted to take Brave steps in my writing. I wanted to be Brave in my parenting, sending one child off to Kindergarten and continuing to find the parenting style that fits the other. But in looking up the definition I couldn’t help but feel like the words related to negativity instead of hope.
1. ready to face and endure danger or pain without fear.
Danger. Pain. Fear. That’s not how I see my future, at least not how I wanted to see it. Suddenly the word did not sit right with me.
So I looked to STORY.
1. a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader.
2. an account of past events in someone's life or in the evolution of something.
Just reading those definitions I felt inspired. The way it pointed to writing in so many obvious ways, the positive guiding words of interest, amuse, instruct, evolution. These are words I can get behind.
Once you have chosen your word, or the word has chosen you, depending on how woo-woo you want to be, then the fun part begins. This is where you start mapping out your goals, your priorities, your intentions. For some, the word is left just to be a pleasant reminder without needing to be tied to specific goals. I’m a dreamer. I dream big and I like to get my dreams down on paper with lots of pretty colors. My life. My rules. My Story.
I begin by writing the word and definition on a paper and then start adding a few words around it that come to mind when I think of this word. Live the Story. Love the Story. Write the Story. Share the Story. Read the Story. I like putting my goals into categories and this year with Story that seemed to make the most sense as the various phrases branched off the one little word. So without further ado, I bring you my goals and intentions for 2017.
Share the Story…
The best stories are shared. In my ongoing search for the growth in my writing, sharing my stories is a practice I want to keep at, growing more and more each day. This feels risky, but I am the heroine in this story and the story should be shared.
1. Create a Newsletter. I want to begin collecting emails and sharing content outside my blog in order to create a community.
2. Start Two Regular Blog Series. I have ideas that fill up multiple notebooks. Now it’s time to share them.
3. Get Published. Shutter. That’s a super scary one to put out there, especially because it is not completely in my control. But I believe everyone needs one sky dive goal. I’m standing at the edge of my airplane ready to jump, who’s pushing me out?
Write the Story…
Obviously the above goals are all about writing, but this is where I get to really focus on writing the parts of my story that I want to happen. This is my story, my life. What do I want to be in this story? One of my goals is coming up in a week and a half and the other is ongoing.
4. PR in Half Marathon. Plain and simple. I’m leaving it open to PR in as alittle as 2 seconds. Obviously I want to, and think I can, do better. But better is all I want. Come January 22 I’ll check off part of that goal for sure and here’s hoping I can add the rest to my story.
5. Monthly Small Goals. More on this later. Essentially, I want to be better about breaking down all my goals into small goals throughout the year. And I want to literally write them down in hopes they become my story.
Read the Story…
Another obvious connection to story is actually reading stories. A big part of my story is listening to the stories of others.
6. Read 200 books. Woah, I hear you say! The idea for this goal came from my friend Crystal, when I saw her post on Instagram that she and her children have a group goal of 200 books I knew this was perfect for me. I love to read for my self but I also very much enjoy reading with my children. Many of the children’s books we pick up inspire me just as much as the ones I find in the adult section. I don’t think we’ll have any trouble reaching our goal.
7. Record Book Lists. Part two of the previous goal is actually writing down all the books we read and hopefully sharing some with you. I’m looking for a good routine for this. Probably Good Reads? Thoughts? Taking ideas!
Live and Love the Story…
I could have separated these two but they seem too intertwined. A big part of my goal with Story is to learn to value and celebrate my OWN story. I want to be happy with the life I am living right in this very moment instead of reading ahead a few chapters to find out what might happen. So this part of the goal is living my best life and loving it.
8. Begin Scrapbook. One way I re-center myself after a challenging day is to scroll through my photo feed or read through old blog posts. It is a reminder of the beautiful simplicity in our day to day. I want more of this story in my own hands and in the hands of my children, before it is all forgotten.
9. Be healthy inside and out. I need to take better care of my health, like actually finding a GP or going to the dentist (insert nervous face emoji.) I also want to find some better mental health self-care strategies.
10. Live well in your home. How many times do I get so frustrated with that closet that is still disorganized or that corner of the home that never looks quite right but then NEVER DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. So less complaining, more doing.
11. Let each chapter play out. Less a goal and more a mantra to repeat to myself in the moments when I am just so frustrated and trying to rush ahead to the next season. Learn to wait with anticipation as the story unfolds before, around and within me.
Eleven goals. It looks like a lot when written in this way. But instead of feelings of overwhelming doubt I feel only excited anticipation at this year. My favorite part of the definition of story is that last part describing it as "an evolution of something." This is what Story means to me. My life’s Story is an evolution, and setting goals and intentions and priorities are how this story evolves. I get to Be the Heroine in my own Story, and I can’t put this book down.
Tell me your words! I love knowing how others are living their best life.