How do you like to approach the New Year? Does this time of year get you excited for planning and goal setting? Do you relish the opportunity to reflect on the past year? Do you wish all the talk of resolutions would just go away?
Personally, while I do take some time to reflect and to look ahead, I also try to pay attention to what I need right now. I find it especially hard to dream about the future and to treat the past gently this time of year when it’s cold and dark and I’m tired from the holidays. It’s ok to do my more in-depth planning at a time of year that works better for me.
One aspect of all the New Year hype that regularly catches my curiosity, however, is the idea of choosing a word or a theme for the coming year. When I see others sharing their words, my mind starts playing around with options until something feels right.
Generally, the word I choose is less about a specific grand goal and more about a way of being that I want to embody day in and day out. Sometimes I write about what that word means for me and how I hope it will challenge and change me. It was interesting to look back at my words from 2016 and 2017 and to see both how far I’ve come and where those words still feel relevant.
Lately I’ve been focusing on consistently showing up for the things that matter for me and being willing to lean into discomfort. Both of these feel like essential groundwork for everything I want for my life.
Since uncomfortable doesn’t seem like a very fun theme for 2020, I decided to go with stay. Stay consistent. Stay present. Stay in the face of discomfort. Stay curious. Stay kind. Stay open. Stay visible. Stay trusting. Stay hopeful. Stay in relationship. Stay with myself.
On the surface, stay can seem like an easy word. It can sound like I’m content to settle for wherever I am right now. I spent a lot of years feeling stuck, but stay feels different. Stay means choosing what matters to me—in the big things and the small—and then staying engaged and invested…even when it feels scary, frustrating, or painful. It also means paying attention to what I need to let go of in order to stay with myself. Part of staying is recognizing when it’s time not to stay anymore.
I have patterns of running, hiding, or avoiding when things get uncomfortable. I think that’s a natural response for many of us, but discomfort doesn’t always mean there’s something wrong. Often it’s just part of growth. I don’t want to miss out on relationships and opportunities because it’s uncomfortable to be vulnerable or to try something new.
Recently I was talking about how much it was helping me to have the accountability of working on a project with a friend. I heard myself say that I’ll let myself down all day long, but I won’t let my friend down. I don’t want to be someone who lets myself down. I want to be someone who stays with myself.
When I’ve decided to stay, there’s no longer the ongoing question of whether I’ll show up or hide, stay or run, avoid or get to work. I’ve already decided that I’m staying so all my energy can go toward what I will do while I’m here.
The more I stay, the more staying becomes part of what I do and who I am. It gets easier with practice. When I can trust myself to show up for myself, so many more possibilities open up for me. I’m curious to discover what richness is waiting if I’m willing to stay in the places that are uncomfortable instead of pulling back to the safety of what I already know.
I’m curious…have you chosen a word or theme for 2020? Where in your life are you choosing to stay?