Since 2010, I have selected three words to guide my actions in the year to come. This practice continues to pay far better dividends than any specific goal I’ve ever set this early in the year. Eventually the words mature into clear goals, plans and actions, but starting with this process forces me to slow down and to set my intentions rather than just forging ahead. It helps me to consider the entire year rather than trying to shove everything I can into January (which usually just leads to burning myself out by February).
Before looking forward, I need to look back. To be honest, I’m torn. I think I did well, I’m just not sure I did well by the words I chose. Reading last year’s post, I see my initial intent when I selected Choices, Options and Harmony. I feel like I owned my choices. I feel like I created options at my existing job, taking advantage and dedicating myself to some opportunities that opened up in January. However, I had to let go of a lot of the personal projects I enjoy, like writing and podcasting. As for harmony . . . I was pleasantly surprised to discover how complete my family felt with the addition of our third child, but a newborn and a desire for harmony isn’t always a realistic desire.
Having these intentions helped, but much like the year before (and most before it), I had my set of intentions and my realities had their own. We went to battle and we ended up meeting somewhere in the middle.
So what about this year? I want to focus on closing the gaps between desire and reality. Yet more than any other year in my life, I’m struggling to clearly figure out what it is I want. Rather than trying to force myself to answer before I can even define the question, I’d rather focus on a few key areas that will help—regardless of what I want.
Healthier – I have a terrible relationship with my personal health. I have a terrible relationship with food. I have a terrible (yet delightful) relationship with beer. I have a terrible relationship with exercise. I’m getting fatter every year, and even though I will jump on one bandwagon or another to address this reality, I’ve never found a lasting way to get and stay healthy. Most of my attempts involve some rigid process that works well in the short run but never lasts. A big part of this, I believe, is the fact that while I want to be healthier, it’s not a core value for me. It’s just a reality that needs to be addressed. That or I’m going to die a lot younger than I, my wife or my children would prefer.
I also know myself and need to find a way to weave this into a life that doesn’t sacrifice every beer and burger . . . hence the word healthier, but not necessarily healthy. Basically, over the next year I need to figure out what good enough looks like for me when it comes to my health, and then I need to get there.
Re-situated – I’m currently happy in my position at work, but I’m miserable with our living situation. There’s now five of us living in a two bedroom, one bathroom. We love our neighborhood, but the kind of space we want is just not a financial reality here. However the more we talk about it, the less my wife and I are able to find a suitable next step. We need decent schools, we need it to be reasonably commutable for both of us (as well as our caretaker), we need it to be somewhere we actually enjoy living, and we need it to be financially viable. Something is going to have to give, but neither of us is any closer to having any concept of what that should be or where we’d like to end up. As much as “moving” shouldn’t be a year long goal, it’s not proving to be easy. But I’m tired of feeling like our space is temporary and would like to move towards a more permanent place to continue to raise my family.
Expression – When I look back year after year, this intent is where I struggle the most. I have a demanding work and family life. This makes it challenging to have anything left when it comes to side projects, like this site. I don’t always have the energy for it, but the desire to put a piece of me out there beyond my work or family life continues to persist. I have no earthly idea how I’m going to do it, but I need to make time to regularly create and share.
This is going to be especially challenging considering the aforementioned need to spend a fair amount of what little free time I have getting healthier, but the mental health and happiness that comes along with writing or podcasting is something that I can’t let go of either. As per usual, this will probably lead me to desire more than reality will allow, but as much as this can occasionally lead me to fall short, it just as often helps me push past what I initially would have thought was possible.
Words aside, I see my life going one of two ways this year. Either I will redouble my dedication to my life and career here in New York, or I will blow it all up and start anew. At the moment I have no idea which way it is going to go, or even which way I want it to go. But either way, I’m ready to get there already, as there’s just been far too much uncertainty over the past few years. More than anything, I’d like to see that come to an end or to a head this year.