Picking a Word

It goes without saying 2016 sucked for a good many people. I don’t think you can be on FB for more than 20 minutes without seeing some meme lambasting this last year. But while it was awful for all of those reasons, it was also just a hard year for me personally as well. When I picked the word “calm” for 2016, I was envisioning systems and routines and habits that kept us all from running around like crazy people.

I didn’t imagine that it would come to mean being able to grocery shop, and laugh over coffee with friends, and make dinner, and snuggle my children while simultaneously feeling bereft and grateful. I didn’t know that it was humanly possible to feel both overwhelming joy and complete brokenness at the same time, but this year…I could. I don’t know if the people nearest to me would say I’ve been “calm”, but I’ve certainly never dealt with this much emotional upheaval and maintained any level of composure before this year.  Hokey or not, I’m going to go ahead and say my word certainly helped in 2016, even if it didn’t in the way I most thought it would.

So in October, when a word kept popping up (the way things prone to do when the universe or God or life is trying to tell you something), I started thinking. And listening. And when it came time to start thinking about resolutions and goals and plans for 2017 and the word came up again (and then one more time), I thought it might be time to claim it.

Discipline.

More accurately, self-discipline.
(def: noun: the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.)

I’m a great dreamer. I’m an okay implementor. I’m a HORRIBLE sustainer (which is one of the reasons I married a man who is a complete and total work horse. That man can put his head down and plow through with such blind determination, I get exhausted just thinking about it.) If only life could consist of picking a project, starting a goal, and two weeks later saying, “Nope. I’m going to tackle that other goal over there instead.” (and then repeating the process again and again and again). I’d win awards. I’m the absolute BEST at setting a goal.

And absolutely terrible about reaching most of them.

So…it’s time to change that and do what’s best for me, even when I don’t want to do. Even when I feel like being lazy. Even when I feel like I can break my personal rule “just this once”. Even when I’ve earned a break.

The plan is to do some small things (health, budget, home maintenance) that will hopefully (over time) make some big changes. The plan is to plow forward and hopefully through whatever 2017 throws my way. I’m going to work really hard anyway.

And I’m going to knit each of the kids a sweater. (Because it can’t ALL be about work.)

I hope you’ll tell me what you are looking forward to this year. And what your word or resolution is (if you have one of those). Thanks for being here, friends!!

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  • I love how you’ve figured out what you’re going to do and then how you’re going to do it. Your enthusiasm for discipline is wonderful. I bet you’ll do great. Ever onward, eh?

  • Happy New Year, Kate 🙂 . I hope you had a wonderful holiday break with your family!

    “…simultaneously feeling bereft and grateful” and “overwhelming joy and complete brokenness” — this pretty much sums up my 2016 as well, Kate. It was a tough year.

    I don’t technically *do* a word for the new year, but I think your choice of “discipline” is fantastic. I could definitely use a good dose of it myself! I’m not exactly sure what I’m looking forward to for 2017. Ideally, I would like to make a plan and finally figure out who I am and what I should do with my life, but I confess I’m having a hard time feeling optimistic about this. I do have lots of small goals (knit more, read more, get back to exercising, finally get over my overwrought sentimentality and get stuff out of the house) but that all feels somewhat external — and will be a hindrance! — to figuring out that bigger question. Ugh. (Sorry, this is not the most uplifting comment, is it?)

    • I’m so sorry that you too had a tough year, Marian. And appreciative of your comment. I think there is something to be said for the small goals leading to bigger changes (in fact, I think I mentioned it in my post). I think our nature (not everyone’s, but maybe you and me) is to overhaul the whole system, when sometimes a few tweaks will do. I can’t speak for you, but I know for me, I need a few “wins” and even if they are small (like drinking all my water and making my bed every day this month), small changes add up and the momentum of hitting small goals can help us reach big ones. At least, that’s what I feel like lately. And I NEED hope and success and if I have to make it up by setting the bar low for now – I think that’s okay. I’ll set it higher when I’m ready for it to be higher.

      Figuring out who you are and what you should do with you life…that’s not setting the bar high at all!?! 😉 I admire you. It takes guts to look for the answer to that question. And I think knitting, reading, exercising, and cleaning excess stuff is probably more in partnership than a hindrance, but I don’t know your exact situation and could be wrong. I wish you peace in whatever your endeavor. XOXO.

  • I dunno about your word….I will be interested to see how it works for you. I love your thoughts here (and in the comments) about working toward big changes by taking little steps. I say “I dunno” just because I wonder about the idea of discipline. The idea that if we don’t do something we said we would it means we lack discipline. I feel myself resisting that idea. All our behaviors are about meeting needs. I’m wondering what needs are getting met by not doing the things you think you should do–and if figuring that out would help you get to where you want to go? I worry that if you don’t do those things, and you attach that to the idea of discipline, you might get down on yourself for not having any–when it might be that you are choosing other things that matter more in some way. These are just questions/thoughts, that I have for myself (and often, kids in schools) more than for you. If they aren’t helpful, please let them roll on past you!

    • I always like reading your thoughts & comments, Rita. Thank you for leaving them!

      I think I understand what you are trying to say and if I do – I agree that sometimes life takes over and we need to jettison goals and plans to keep afloat. And sometimes we just need to focus our energies in different areas. I’m not talking about those situations.

      I want my day to day/minute to minute decisions to reflect my long term goals in a way they aren’t now because often I’m just too preoccupied with whatever is easiest in the moment. I think there is definitely a time for making in the moment decisions, but I’ve been in that mode for too long.

      I’m interested to see how it will all work together in 2017. Goodness knows picking calm didn’t turn out *at all* like I had expected. 🙂

      • I think I understand what you’re saying. It’s something I’ve been thinking about, too. Yesterday I had something I really wanted to work on, but I just couldn’t seem to get started on it. I actually have lots of things–like finally getting all the Christmas stuff put away. But I didn’t do any of them. I know the reason: I was migraining and feeling really blue about my daughter going back to school and worn out from the constant disruptions to my regular schedule and the adjustments those disruptions are requiring. (Yesterday was our 6th snow day since mid-December.) What I’ve realized about days like that, from looking back on them, is that my problem isn’t lack of discipline, though it feels like that in the moment. It’s that I really need a break sometimes. Sometimes, that goes on for a long time. And then I know it’s not so much that I need a break as it’s most likely depression.

        So, I don’t mean to project my stuff on to you. 🙂 It’s that you raise something that’s been a question for me. You don’t really strike me as an “easiest in the moment” kind of person. What I’m saying, for whatever it’s worth, is: Be gentle with yourself. Love yourself like you love your friends.

        I’m really interested to see how it all unfolds for you, too.