I’m sitting in my white office chair at my desk, sipping on chamomile tea, preparing for bed. But my brain won’t shut off until I write out my word for the year.
In 2014, I decided to choose a word for the year that would encompass a particular aim. It instantly felt much more effective than making a lengthy list of unrealistic resolutions and goals.
That first year my word was intention. In 2015 it was focus. And 2016 was one of greatest years, with my word being self-love. I feel that each of those laid the bricks for each succeeding year, slowly building me into the woman I want to be. This life will always be a work in progress, but I am blissfully content and happy with life.
It certainly has it’s crappy days, weeks even, but I’ve finally become comfortable with the knowledge that I can choose who and what I want in my life, and how I am going to live it.
Today I saw a quote on a friend’s Instagram by Glennon Doyle Melton that said, “Learn your truth, sit with it, own it, express it. Then: You’re done! No defending or babysitting your truth once you release it. What other people say, think or do with it is none of your business! Because the second your truth hits someone else it gets mixed up with all her stuff and it’s not yours anymore, anyway. So let it be. Anyway, let the truth exist outside of your body so you can get some breathing room and maybe even support. Whatever that problem you have is, it belongs to millions of others, too. Nothing new under the sun. No shame. Only freedom.”
That little diddy sums up the kind of life I’ve been sweating, moping, complaining, and crying toward for the last three years. And, dammit! I feel like I am finally arriving! Just a teeny-weeny bit. And it feels RAPTUROUS.
So, this discipline stuff. How does it fit into my life journey? Allow me to mind vomit all over the screen for the next five minutes so we are all of one understanding.
Someone commented on one of my Instagram photos two days ago when I shared this very large and intimidating word. She said, “It’s very brave of you to make this your word in a year you are having a baby! Mine would be ‘survive’!” I laughed the first time I read it. Then I reflected upon my second reading.
It takes a lot of guts and and self-assurance to focus on becoming a high-functioning, extremely controlled lady for the year, especially when we’re about to be outnumbered by tiny humans! But, that, my friends, is the key.
My reply to the comment was, “Without discipline, there is no survival!” I patted myself on the back for feeling like Yoda for a hot second. (And I still feel pretty cool for coming up with that nugget of wisdom, even if I have no idea what I’m talking about.)
For me, that sentiment is 100% true. If I don’t have things somewhat organized, I am a trainwreck. I committed a solid 23 years of my former life to the ideal of “spontaneity” and “free-spiritedness”, which is really code for “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing with my life or how to use a day planner.” And that’s cool . . . when you’re in your teens and early twenties. But that mumbo jumbo ain’t gonna fly when the time comes to hold down a job that pays the rent/mortgage, or committing to a healthy relationship with another human. And it definitely doesn’t work when you decide to give life to humans who YOU have to raise to be responsible, respectful, and intelligent people of their own.
You know what gets you to that stable, grassy green meadow of adulting? Ding, ding, ding!
I can feel your eyes glossing over, so let’s get to the bullet points and specifics that a year of discipline entails:
- Productivity: My food blog, The Butter Half, has become a wonderful part-time job that keeps me extremely busy and creatively fulfilled. If I want to see it continue to grow into a thriving business, I need to make the most of my time. Motherhood is my ultimate priority, so the time I do have to spend on blogging needs to be precise and focused. Those three hours I set aside each day need to be filled effectively and efficiently, so I am planning my days out by the hour. I wake up at 7am, and try to be in bed by 10pm. Everything in between has a mission and purpose. Day planners really do work, people! (Take it from someone who used to roll their eyes at them.)
- Action: Procrastination is my worst enemy. If they handed out awards for procrastination, I’d have a Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Peace Prize, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, an ESPY, and a Tony. I’d be a septuple threat! You’ve never heard of a creature so fearsome. (See, I’m somehow managing to procrastinate this paragraph from ending by talking about the very topic.) It’s a problem. But 2017 is the year procrastination will be pulverized. Into smithereens! My goal within the broad net of discipline is to take action on things I think of. Does that load of laundry need folded? Cool, I will do it immediately. Should I Netflix and chill or fill out my weekly calendar? Uggghhh, this one is touuuughh. But I’m gonna fill out the calendar. This also applies to physical activity. In my planner I schedule some sort of fitness activity for 7am when I wake up. Right now that means going for a 25-minute walk, and listening to my favorite podcasts. (Double points for me in being productive, because I listen to podcasts that help me be a more highly effective human being. I’m looking at you, Gretchen Rubin.)
- Saying “No!”: This might be the most important item on the docket. You ever see the movie Yes Man with Jim Carrey? Basically he is a miserable divorcee who constantly turns down every opportunity presented to him in his lonely, hollow life. One night he is forced to attend a manic self-help seminar where he begrudgingly pledges to become a “yes man” and say “yes” to all the universe brings his way. He commits when he almost gets hit by a car (or something cosmically tragic of that nature) because of saying no, and the superstition grabs hold of him. Long story short, he learns that a fulfilling, adventurous life is definitely full of yeses, but it is imperative to know when to say “no!” For example, I will say no to things that stretch my bandwidth to the point of insanity. That means declining work projects that aren’t worth the cost of my family time; not attending every single social event; telling myself “no, Abbey, you cannot eat a fifth brownie.” It’s not a bad word after all, when used properly.
- Accountability: Matt and I chose the same word for the year. (Actually, I copied him because I think he is awesome and I want to be like him when I grow up.) That means we get to work through this intimidating, exhilarating year together, striving for the same goal. That also means we get to hold each other accountable, checking in and seeing how our personal goals are coming along. I also think I will start a small accountability group with a handful of like-minded friends who are in the same season and business as me. It helps to achieve goals when there is someone to report to and bounce off ideas.
- Goals: I set goals every year, but they will be more specific in 2017. I have a list of daily tasks to complete and check off, which in turn help me to complete my weekly goals. Those goals feed into my goals for the month, and those will help me complete my 6-month goals. My goals will be focused on being a more present, engaged, and loving mother and wife; a thoughtful, involved family member and friend; business goals for The Butter Half.
Ahhhh, it feels so much better to have this written out! I just completed one of my goals for the week! Look at that. It’s already off to a great start.
I hope your 2017 is full of fresh beginnings, living up to your potential, and brings you closer to actually living your dream life. Happy trails!
Image via Lucy Glendinning