New Years, time for resolutions? Welcoming in 2014

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It’s almost New Years, and if you’ve picked up anything from reading my blog it has to be that retrospection is something I rarely shy away from. This year is no exception. In fact, as I find myself smack dab in the middle of a relatively large transition, I am more willing than ever to put my feet up, reflect, and think about the year ahead.

Quick update, just in case by some chance the person reading this isn’t my Mom or Melanie… I recently left South East Asia, am home in the States for the next two months, and will then be moving to South America (Colombia to be exact) where I plan to be for quite some time.

So as one year draws to a close and another adventure looms what do I want to focus on? What can I do or achieve to be my best self? How will I be better than I was last year?

I don’t know about you, but just reading those questions overwhelms me. They beg for the creation of goals that I am then expected to weigh the success of 2014 against. They are jam packed with the connotation that somehow this year I didn’t do a good job ‘being myself’. They ask to be answered with resolutions that I will undoubtedly break, silly cliques of things I don’t even necessarily want for myself. They are searching for something measurable, but is personal progress ever something that can be truly measured?

I will become fluent in Aymara. I will lose 20 pounds. I will be gluten free and I will stop eating gum balls. I will fall in love with the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. I will chose to see the good in every single situation. Every day I will run a marathon before breakfast.

No. Resolutions are silly. Half of those things don’t even give voice to what I want, they are obvious, quick fixes to things we often think will make our lives ‘better’. So, how best to reflect?

Sometimes it’s smart to steal, so with this conundrum on my plate that’s what I’ve chosen to do. A good friend (thanks Nikki Scott!) recently shared that instead of setting arbitrary goals for herself each year she likes to pick three guiding words for herself. Brilliant. Not a resolution, not something new to add to the to-do list, not an arbitrary commitment to myself. Simple, three words, three things that I want to remember when making daily decisions.

So here are mine. Balance. Create. Connect.

Balance: Possibly the hardest of the three words I’ve chosen. Life abroad and life at are home are both equally wonderful but for quite opposite reasons. Home is all about comfort, love, and relaxation. Life abroad however has been about independence and exploration. This year I don’t want the two to be so black and white, compartmentalized, and separate. I want to find a way to let both be a part of my new abroad experience.

Create: Nothing makes me happier than the opportunity to tap into the right side of my brain. Being creative also makes me feel confident, enthusiastic, and grounded. So this year whenever given the chance to make something new, play with ideas, or get artsy I plan to say yes!

Connect: This one’s easy, I left Thailand with one resounding conclusion; adventures don’t sustain us, people do. So this next year I want to continue pursuing this realization. Connection comes from vulnerability, empathy, and engagement and in 2014 I will continue to strive to be these things whenever given the chance.

Well, there you have it. Three words that I plan to pack with me come February when it’s time to once again load up my growing suitcase. Three words that I plan to let guide me through 2014 wherever the next 12 months might bring me.

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