I stopped making New Year's resolutions in 2007. I wasn't very good at keeping them and each time I failed to follow through I would feel more and more disappointed in myself.
Around the same time, I ran across Ali Edwards' One Little Word and decided to embrace the idea of having a focus word for the year. This way, I could spend my energy focused on something that’s important to me and apply it to all areas of my life. 2008 was my first year with a word and I chose the word journey. I wanted to remind myself that life is about the journey and not the destination so I could enjoy each day more instead of worrying too much about every single goal. Then, in 2009, I chose two words which I decided worked well together. They were Bloom and Peace. I wanted to embrace being more peaceful and let that help me bloom in all areas of my life. In 2010, I chose the word Loved. I wanted to conquer my worries around not being worthy of love and be more present to the love that surrounded me.
For 2011, I decided to choose the word Free. This word has several meanings for me. A big part of it is about being free of my past. I have a lot of baggage I am carrying from my earlier years. Ideas about my worth, my abilities, my looks, etc. So my goal this year is to let the past go. Assume that I am starting a brand new notebook and I get to write whatever I want in it. Along the same lines, the other side of this word is about the future. Now that there's no past to hold me down, I am free to become anything I want to be. I am free to be beautiful, thin, artistically talented, loved and liked, and anything else I choose to be. I have the freedom that comes with an empty notebook. I find the whole idea liberating and feel a deep sense of pull from the word. Which is why it's the perfect word for me.
I make a point of integrating my word into my life in different ways. In 2008, I made an art journal and titled it Journey. In 2009, I bought jewelry with both my words. In 2010, I bought a necklace, made another art journal, and bought a small print for my wall that said "You are So Loved."
For 2011, I went a bit overboard. As I've felt each year so far, I feel like this is the most important word I've ever chosen so I feel a strong desire to surround myself with it to ensure I will keep it in the forefront of my mind. Here are some of the things I did:
I chose some symbols that reminded me of the word Free. Butterflies, angels, and birds. I changed my blog banner to a butterfly photo I took in 2010 and embedded the word "free" in it.
I made an art journal that I plan to use weekly and covered the front with a bird and the back with a birdcage.
I wear a necklace with a butterfly and a ring with one, too. I bought a print from an artist I love that says "I am free."
and finally, I bought a birdcage and a bird to sit in my art area. I have the cage open with the bird sitting outside.
I even put the word "free" on my daily planner so it's there each time I sit to make a todo list.
I told you I went overboard.
None of my ideas are super-crafty, but if you'd rather make something instead of buying it, here's a wonderful frame Paula made for her 2010 word, "Open."
This year, you can even join Ali in a year-long Big Picture Classes workshop where you will create something to commemorate your word each month. Click here to sign up for the workshop.
If you've never chosen a word for the year, I wholeheartedly encourage you to pick one for 2011. I firmly believe that having one word to focus on has made me more aware of the decisions I make throughout the year and has made me happier and more fulfilled than any resolution I ever made.
For those of you who still shy away from the idea, there's something else I am planning to do this year and maybe this will speak to you more than the idea of choosing one word. A few months ago, I was listening to The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and one of the things the author mentions is managing our time and how we spend much of it doing what's urgent instead of doing what's important. As in, we're often reacting instead of thinking ahead and calmly acting in the direction of our dreams and priorities.
So I decided it would beneficial for me to make a "Priority List". A list of goals and people I want to prioritize during 2011. This way, when an opportunity or request came my way, I could check my list and make sure it is aligned with my priorities before I accepted it. It's easy to lose sight of things and take on projects that end up eating a lot of my time and not making me fulfilled. If I had my list to look at each time, I could keep what's important at the forefront of my mind and make sure to prioritize it.
Here's my Priority List for 2011:
- Art + Photography
These are not in order. Yes, most of the time my family comes first. However, there are times when work takes higher priority because it has to for a brief time. Or sometimes I might choose to exercise even if my son wants to play at that moment. These priorities are fluid for me. They are all a part of me and I want to make sure I value them and dedicate time to each. I also want to make sure I turn down anything that doesn't line up with one of these.
Your list might have Travel or Cooking or Knitting. There is no right or wrong here. Having this list will help you stay focused throughout the year and raise the chances that you're spending time on the Important instead of the Urgent.
So if the word idea doesn't work for you, maybe you can try the Priority List idea. Throughout the week, I will show you examples of how I weave both of these into my life by creating projects that focus on them. I also plan to write or create art with each of these words and put them on the inspiration board in front of my art desk. This way it's right in front of me at all times.
I created a little reminder for myself and it sits next to my birdcage:
It has each of my words and lots of butterflies.
Just to make it easy for you, I made a little set of downloads for you to create your priority list. It includes a journaling spot for you write your list on and colorful labels for you to use for each of your words.
If you don't know how to change the color of these here's a video that can help:
I hope at least one of these ideas speak to you. If you're a resolution maker, you can still use these ideas and weave them into your resolutions. I've taken a different path where I create projects around these goals and commit to the projects. This seems to work well for me and I will highlight some of my and other WCS team members' projects throughout the week to give you some ideas of things you might try, too.
Tomorrow we will talk more about setting goals instead of making resolutions and how to make sure you're able to follow through successfully.
In the meantime, if you choose a word or make a Priority List, I would love for you to share it with us in the comments. If you commemorate your word in some way, I'd love to see your ideas, too. And, finally, if you don't do either of these but have other way of setting the focus for your year, I'd love to hear those, too. I look forward to reading your comments!