A few years ago I moved away from New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not because they aren’t great ideas, or because I was having trouble keeping them. Instead it was because I was discovering that focusing on a single goal stated in January was not always going to be the best way to use my time in March, May, and November of the year coming up. I’d had years where my resolution was kept, like my Marathon year in 2008. But I’d also had years where my resolution had to be forfeit because everything in our lives changed. You know, like when we moved to a new state.
So, last December, instead of making a resolution, I set an intention for the year. A mantra I’d repeat to myself that embodied the life I wanted to live. That mantra was “Focus.” I’d repeat it to myself when I was getting distracted on facebook. I’d say it in my head when I was getting frustrated with the kids and losing my temper. I said it to myself often while I was suffering through the annual “No Training Brazier Half Marathon.” I made it my intention every time I went to my yoga mat, or to do a skill on the gymnastics floor. It was really effective. It didn’t define what I was doing, it defined how I did it and what kind of person I was.
“Focus” motivated me to set education goals for the girls and keep them on track. It helped me remember to exercise even though I quit my gym membership. And it helped me use my one day of personal time well enough to complete a picture book manuscript and submit it for publication (still waiting for the response on that one).
This year I’ve decided my new mantra, which I hope will not replace “Focus” but compliment it, is “I finish things.” I have struggled in the past with quitting half way through a project, and just walking away. There are times when a chapter must come to an end, and I respect that. But what I’m hoping will happen instead is that my newly found focus will help me only start things I fully intend to finish. Just like everyone else, I only have a small amount of hours each week for my own projects and I want to see those projects through to the end.
I’m almost always working alone and one of my struggles is having no external force telling me when the job is done. Somethings can drag on forever, or I can stop them suddenly because it’s “done.” Honestly, I’ve just learned that I’m not setting clear enough guidelines for what I’m trying to accomplish. If my mantra is “I finish things,” then I’ll have to be more honest with myself at the start of a project what exactly it is that defines “finished.”
So, what about you? Are you a resolution person, or an intention person? I’d love to hear what your focus is going to be and what you plan to finish in 2015.