I like the idea of setting a word for the year. I first heard of this concept on podcasts I listen to regularly, including the Sarah R. Bagley podcast, and the #amwriting podcast. But lots of people do this now (if you Google “setting a word for the year,” you’ll find many blog posts on this topic.
Rather than set New Year’s resolutions, the idea is to choose a word that will be the unifying theme for your year. This word should help guide the choices you make throughout the year – especially how you spend your time – so you live the life you truly want.
Last year, my word was “reach.” I had some pretty big goals (which I did not entirely meet), but I did “reach” last year nonetheless. I ran all winter long (derailed in early spring with an injury, but still, I’ve never successfully done that before) and started a regular writing practice. I even had my first piece published on Parent Co., which was really exciting for me!
This year, I’ve decided my word is “connection.” This means connection in the traditional sense – i.e. connecting with others – but it also means connection with myself. So, to break it down:
Connection with myself:
This means ensuring I’m connected to the core of who I am and who I want to be. Not who I am in relation to other people (a mother, wife, sister, daughter, colleague, friend), but what I want, need, and dream as an individual.
Mindfulness is key to this. After many years of reading about the benefits of meditation and thinking, “I really should start meditating regularly,” I’ve finally started doing it. I get up early most mornings (at 6) and write in my journal and then spend time in meditation (I use the timer on the Insight app). I am new to this, and it is still difficult for me to completely quiet my mind, but I’m up to a seven-minute meditation, and it’s kind of astounding to me how much of a difference this has already made in how I handle my day-to-day life.
I’m also staying connected to the two things that interest me most, the things that make me feel most like “me”: writing and running. I know I need to keep putting the work in on both. It’s funny how similar they are – much like running, the more I write, the easier it gets, the stronger I become. My big running goal for the first half of the year is to make it (injury free) to the starting line of the Harpers Ferry Half Marathon in May and finish the race. I also have writing goals, but I will keep them to myself for now.
Supporting my running and writing are: nutrition (I’ve cut back on unhealthy carbs/sugar), yoga, and reading lots.
Connection with others:
I’m an introvert and I default to solitude. I have always been this way, but I feel like I’ve leaned even more into this tendency in the last several years. I work from home full-time, and I have two small children (so I don’t get out much).
Parenting little kids can be isolating, and it’s funny, but for me, that means I often turn even more inward, craving alone time. That is who I am, and I don’t think that will change (and frankly, I don’t even really want it to, because I need solitude to read, write, and do really important things like binge-watch Scandal). But, I do recognize that connection with others makes me stretch, and it makes my life richer and so much better.
So, I’m focusing on connection this year – most importantly, with Tim and our kids. For me, this means when I’m spending time with them, I’m present and not doing other things, like distractedly scrolling through my phone. That is hard for me, so I’ve actually taken social media apps off of my phone to try to make it easier.
Being present with my kids doesn’t mean that when they’re home, I’m actively engaged with them every single second. But, if I am playing with them, or eating dinner with them, or giving them a bath, I’m trying to do those things wholeheartedly, and with my full attention.
Outside of my own little family, I am also focused on connecting with my parents, sister, and other family more regularly and consistently.
At work, I’m trying to go into the office more frequently, because interacting face-to-face with my coworkers strengthens those relationships and keeps me more engaged in my work.
One big area I need to work on is friendships. It’s hard to meet new friends when you’re a grownup, and it’s even harder when you’re an introvert like me. But I know I need to try, that it’s an area that’s lacking in my life. I had started running with a local group last year, and I really loved it, and then I just never picked it back up after I recovered from my injury. I haven’t taken the plunge back in (the first time is always the hardest! Not because these people are scary, but stepping outside of my comfort zone is), but I plan to soon. When I lived in Atlanta, I met so many friends through running, so I want to make an effort to do the same here.
So that about sums it up, what “connection” is all about for me in 2018. I’ve already had a great first month and am excited for the rest of the year ahead!