New Year's resolutions are fickle tools. On average only 8% of Americans achieve their resolutions each year, but people who make New Year's resolutions are ten times more likely to achieve their goals than people who don't. My most successful resolution was the year I committed to drinking a glass of water whenever it was offered. Not exactly groundbreaking, but the commitment stayed with me all year and I know I stayed better hydrated. If after approximately 17 years of new year's resolutions that's the best I've been able to muster, it's not unreasonable to think it might not be the best motivating tool for me.
I had a rocky 2017 (who didn't?) and going into 2018 I knew wanted to get clear on some goals for the year, but the process of figuring out what they should be really only increased my anxiety. Then my friend Bryttany over at Hustle or Hyde shared a fun article about what you are supposed to learn in 2018 based on your zodiac sign and that it had helped shape her "word of the year," FEARLESS. I don't believe specifically in astrology, but I think sometimes it's fun approach to looking for new perspectives and suggestions that can shift your thinking in helpful ways, and the idea of a guiding word of the year, as opposed to specific achievements to check off a list, sounded like something that would work for me.
I read the article, and bam, right there under Gemini, was the word I needed for 2018: "With everything starting to settle into a new kind of normalcy on the homefront, this year will be all about stepping past your comfort zone and building something for yourself." Facing relatively constant self-doubt, I have a strong tendency to give up my efforts before they reach completion, and sticking with my own projects and priorities when they get challenging is sadly way outside my comfort zone. So this year, my word for 2018 is BUILDING.
One of the most important implications of having chosen this as my word of the year is that it honors the value of my past work. This year my efforts will be focused on adding to, improving, growing, and reviving work I have already started. Rather than running from or glossing over half-finished projects, I am committing to respecting the work and resources I have already invested, diving deeper, and bringing them to fruition. Under this umbrella of building, I have a few priorities:
1. To focus on me as a writer and content creator as opposed to a social media maven. Last year I nearly ditched the blog several times because of the anxiety it was causing. Tracking analytics, promoting my posts via all the channels, participating in all the blogger groups aimed at building your blog, it made me constantly question whether I was good enough and if I should even bother blogging at all. So this year I am focused on regularly creating new content, and connecting with the people who enjoy it. That's it. In this spirit, I am also starting to do some writing for other publications, which has already been a wonderful learning experience that I am sure will continue to improve my work as a writer.
2. To filter all design decisions regarding our fixer-upper house projects through the question "does this honor and build on the original character of the house?" I redecorated our bathroom last winter, and I already hate it. Short lived design decisions are both frustrating and wasteful. We are planning a major DIY kitchen renovation, and I had been extremely concerned about making design decisions that would age well. After reading the first three pages of Google results for "how to make timeless design decisions" I came to the conclusion it boiled down to one principle: respecting and working with the original era of the house. If your design decisions are appropriate to the original intent of the home, they will always look appropriate, and never dated. So while we aren't going to be doing fully historically accurate reproduction work on our 1965 ranch home, all our decisions will be guided and informed by the midcentury character that initially drew us to this house.
3. To reinvigorate our commitment to incorporating more sustainable, waste reducing, and energy efficient urban homesteading practices into our daily lives. Last year we managed to get our backyard chickens, but my dreams of a vegetable garden didn't make it past the drawing board. I have a bit of a black thumb, so I am enlisting help this year from friends and loved ones who are good at gardening but don't have the outdoor space that I do. My hope is that working together we can share our resources and then a bounty of fresh produce. Making good use of our large yard, such an incredibly rich and valuable resource is going to feel great.
4. To prioritize giving in 2018. 2017 was filled with so much anxiety, panic, and sadness in the United States and around the world, and it's easy to give in to hopelessness. This year I am setting aside some money each month for giving to those in need. I have set up a recurring donation to our local food shelf that will provide 75 meals a month to food insecure families in my community, and I have another $20 earmarked for smaller contributions each month to people I receive valuable education from, as well as black women and femmes with emergency financial needs. One of the big shifts in my awareness in the last few years has been the ongoing examination of the ways that my life is made more comfortable by systemic white supremacy, and giving direct financial contributions to people who don't have that advantage is one of the concrete actions I can take. If you're interested in this kind of giving and not sure where to start, contact your local chapter of Black Lives Matter, or even just follow them on social media.
5. To actually do the small practices I know make me feel notably better; Drinking enough water, eating three meals a day, brushing and flossing my teeth twice a day, keeping the kitchen relatively clean and organized, making the bed each day. There's a lot of significant self-care commitments I could make for the year, but until I've really got the basics down, that's where I am focusing my attention. Being accountable to myself is a skill in itself, and it's one that I hope I can improve through committing to these small actions.
Those are my five areas of focus, and if I can keep them in focus, 2018 should be a pretty good year. Did you make resolutions, or choose a word of the year? I'd love to hear about them over on Facebook, and we can help keep each other accountable.
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