2016 will go down in our collective memory as the year of many struggles, including events which at the beginning of the year, most of us would have deemed as impossible.
Impossible. If I had to pick one word to describe my year, that would have been THE word to choose. I really learned what it means to expect the unexpected, to stay ready, and learn to surrender. Impossible things happened to me this year, both great and bad. What this taught me is that life rarely goes according to plan. And thought this is hardly an epiphany, it really got me thinking about what my year would look like if I embraced the unexpectedness of life, while still striving to be my best self. Coincidentally, my friend (Hi Tom!) sent me an article from writer Chris Brogan, who for nearly ten years has begun his year by choosing 3 words that will drive how he approaches the new year. He explains that most people forget about their new year resolution by the 20th day of the first month. Adding this to the fact that life often has plans of its own, we can easily get sidetracked.
So what is so great about choosing 3 words then? Chris Brogan explains that you need to choose words that are multifaceted and will therefore apply to various situations. Author H.G Wells famously said, “adapt or perish. now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative”. As we set goals for the year, we set expectations for how we want our life to go, yet plans go awry quite often, because we didn’t /couldn’t factor in the unexpected. The ability to adapt to anything life throws your way (good included) is important in not only surviving, but also thriving. Though you can still set goals, choosing 3 words is a way to create a strong foundation for how you will navigate your year, while accounting for life’s plans. The three words are also a way to set the tone for the kind of person you want to be overall. With that said, below are the 3 words that I chose for my year.
I’ve written about this before (read here), but let me give you a recap. Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian word which roughly translated, means “to make things right”. Popularized by Dr. Hew Len, it is philosophy which encourages us to heal in ourselves the ills we see in others. As someone who is dedicated to self-improvement in addition to addressing social injustice, this word is perfect for me. What it means is that every time I see something in someone or in the world that I don’t like, my first plan of action has to be to see how I too, am complicit in the problem and what I can do about it. For example, a friend of mine shared a story about a woman in a wheelchair who was forced to wet herself because the train she was on, didn’t have an accessible toilet. Evidently, this is an outrageous story and it never should have happened. But in addition to figuring out how to be supportive to Paralympian Anne Wafula, I needed to also take a look at how I too am complicit in ableism. In my own life, what do I need to do to make the space I occupy, disability accessible? I could make sure to provide descriptive captions for the pictures on my blog, choose videos with captions (or volunteer to transcribe), and check the language that I use so it’s not ableist. By choosing Ho’oponopono as my philosophy, everything I see wrong in the world becomes an opportunity for introspection. You can do this with work, relationships, politics, everything really.
My second word is share, not because I am a greedy person, because I underestimate myself way too much in everything that I do. I hesitate to share my work with others, whether it is photography, blogpost, yoga, ambitions. I’m in a constant inner battle of impostor syndrome, in which I never think I belong in the places where I find myself. Thankfully, I often get people who tell me that my writing is healing, that my photography has a unique vantage point and aesthetic, and that my yoga practice has encouraged them to get started as well. Having people give me these words of encouragement is so helpful in giving me courage to show more of my work to the world, but it is encouragement that is often short lived because my inner critic quickly takes over again. Having the courage to give more of myself to the world in a consistent manner requires that I deliberately push through my fear. If you are reading this, then you are reading this year’s first attempt at sharing despite my fear. Wish me luck!
Dependability is really an extension of the second word, share. I consider myself a highly dependable person, but only for other people. If someone wants me to do something for them or if something is needed at work, I’m happy to do what it takes so that goals can be reached. When it comes to myself, I’m a total flake. This goes back to this feeling of unworthiness. I set goals for myself but don’t carry them out not because I’m lazy, but because I don’t think I’m good enough for the things I wish for. I question my story telling skills, so collect drafts that I rarely publish. I question my photography skills, so I panic whenever someone (who clearly loves my skills) asks that I do some work for them. I question my intuition, so I let people mistreat me because I question whether my standards are too high. But I know from past experiences (2016 included), that showing up for myself, produces results that are extraordinary (I don’t say this lightly). This year I want to stop bailing out on myself and show up when I say I’m going to show up. Show up for me, so I can so show up for everyone as well.
What about you? If you had 3 words you would choose, what would they be and why? Share with me below!