I opted out of New Years Resolutions last year in favor of focusing on One Little Word. The focus of my year was light, and I'd say I was moderately successful in reminding myself to be light, find light, embrace light throughout the year.
I unloaded a lot of physical stuff when we moved in January, and focused on not acquiring new things we don't need (or have a place for). I've placed my workspace in a spot with natural light--and I've made a valiant effort to get out into the sunlight on days when I am down, or when the hours of daylight are limited, or when I just need a break from the computer screen.
But in the world of personal and professional responsibilities, I have not been light. I have been heavy: heavy with to-do lists, heavy with competing deadlines, heavy with a lack of prioritization that leaves me anxious and sleepless and unable to efficiently handle my daily workload.
I tried various things to help unplug from this last failure: I gave myself a weekend without a to-do list. I reminded myself to whole-ass one thing (and took a blogging break in the process). I resigned from a non-profit board whose monthly (and sometimes bi-monthly) meetings were held over an hour from my new hometown.
At the same time, though, I said yes to every new thing that came across my path. New town, new job, new friends! Yes I will go to happy hour, yes I will join this book club, and this one, and that one, and yes I will run seven days a week. Yes I will volunteer with the running club and yes I will join a planning committee and yes I will help you with this project and that project and yes yes yes yes yes.
This is not to say that I am committing to things that I do not want to do, or that I dislike the things I've agreed to. But there are too many of them, too many for one person with one life and one anxiety problem.
In the midst of these many yeses, I forgot how to say no. And I forgot how to prioritize and how to filter. And I forgot how to breathe, and unwind, and savor the things that bring me the most joy in life: my husband, my family, the pleasure of a home-cooked meal shared with friends, the simplicity of a perfectly timed cocktail after a toast to the coming week. My dog. Running. Reading. Writing. These things became little more than items to check off of a list, and in the process, they became burdens. They stopped being things I enjoy and started just being things I did because I wrote them down somewhere.
All of this had been lurking, unformed, in my brain as I approached my birthday last month (where I wrote about, yes, a to-do list), but it really crystallized in a way I hadn't anticipated when I read Andi's post on prioritizing the fucks she gives, followed by this incredible column from Courtney Martin on "checking in on the questions you're living with." These are two smart, talented women who inspire me to do more--be more!--and their writing reminded me that doing more and being more does not mean doing everything and being perfect.
And so my One Little Word for 2016 will be savor. I will savor the moments that bring me joy, and the people and activities that are part of that. The rest, well, I can't let it all go--but I can learn to prioritize, right?