This morning one of the first social media bits I came across was Parker Palmer's blog post for On Being.
It was a beautiful take on the New Year's cycle, and the process of setting, or more accurately, not setting resolutions.
Parker says, instead of listing out resolutions, this year he'll take "Rilke's famous advice about 'living the questions,'" and ponder five questions that have arisen in him based off an Anne Hillman poem he includes (see photo at right).
• How can I let go of my need for fixed answers in favor of aliveness?
• What is my next challenge in daring to be human?
• How can I open myself to the beauty of nature and human nature?
• Who or what do I need to learn to love next? And next? And next?
• What is the new creation that wants to be born in and through me?
I love this because a few years back I stopped writing out a bunch of resolutions that I rarely met past a few months, or weeks, into the new year ... and then felt guilty about (oh, what a lovely cycle that is) — and started settling into a word for the year.***
I'm not sure where it originates, but I jumped in after reading a post by Liz Lamoreux (who also does beautiful "word/soul mantra" jewelry, if you're interested). In 2013, I selected "becoming." Last year, "show up."
This year, Susannah Conway (who I'm a big fan of, now having taken two of her online courses — Blogging From the Heart and Unravelling) put together a free Find Your Word e-mail course, which I've been plodding through over the past few weeks.
I'm 96 percent sure of what my 2015 word is, but I'm going to let it percolate for a few more days before sharing. (If you'd like to take Susannah's course and then come back and share your word when I do, I'd love that!)
What I do know is that choosing a word for the year lets me, both on a personal level and a professional level, start from a focus point. It allows a soft guide for the moves I make, and it helps me, when stuck in making a decision, remember what I wanted from my year. It's not a be-all, end-all. As Liz says so eloquently in this post:
Choosing a guiding word or phrase for the year isn't the same thing as choosing a wrist tattoo. It isn't permanent. It is one practice that might or might not work for you.
It's worked for me. Perhaps it will for you as well. I offer it as an option to traditional resolution setting. (Which, if that works for you, keep at it!)
However you approach this particular "crossing of the threshold," may your new year be blessed with health, happiness, and whole-hearted living.
***Please don't get me wrong, I think setting goals for yourself is a worthy process, and it's certainly what makes up my #40before41 project. I think it's more about, as Parker suggests, first asking the right questions in order to get to what your heart truly desires. And finding a way to stick with it, or let it go.)