There seems to be a stillness in the air this week as Christmas has past and we anxiously await the festivities of New Year’s Eve. I have been reveling in this stillness and using the little extra spaciousness that I feel in my days to refine what it is that I am eager to focus on in the coming year.
The first thing I knew for sure when I was thinking about my intentions was that being the driven (perhaps overly driven at times,) planning-obsessed person that I am, I was not interested in producing a bunch of rigid, number driven goals that would weigh me down with more ideas of what I felt like I needed to accomplish in the coming year. Instead, I wanted my intentions for 2016 to be more “ways of being.” Guidelines in a sense, that didn’t require any progress tracking and that I felt like no matter how well I embodied these “guidelines” yesterday, last week, or last month, I could get up each new day, re-set my intentions, and just do my best.
Here they are :
1. Be Present.
It sounds simple but being fully present and relishing in the moment is a lot harder than you might think. Often times we think we are fully present when in reality our mind is off rehearsing our to-do list, or fixating on something that happened earlier that day, or even daydreaming about the future. A few tactics that I keep coming back to that I have found help me to be more present are :
- Breathing. As many times a day as I can think of it, I just keep coming back to my breath and taking big, slow, deep breaths. Try it, it feels amazing… calming, relaxing, and invigorating all at the same time.
- The second tactic that I use to be truly present is to focus on my senses (how smooth the water feels on my skin when I am washing my hands or how warm the laundry that I am folding feels when I take it straight out of the dryer.) I also try to be really aware of what might be bothering me if I am at all uncomfortable or start to feel a little irritated and I try to take care of it immediately. Often times, it is a simple fix–stepping closer to the sink when I am washing dishes so my back isn’t strained or taking a moment to stop and swing my arms to warm up my hands when I am out skiing on a frigid day. Or just taking a break to eat or drink something if I have been lost in editing or computer land for hours on end.
- And thirdly, I try to just delight in the little things. The beautiful weather outside, a sweet note at my post office box from a friend, a chance to snuggle up on the couch.
2. Infuse more joy into my day-to-day existence.
I have been trying to incorporate more joy, fun, treats etc. into my everyday. Basically just taking time to nourish myself, just because. Sometimes that is as simple as making myself a cup of tea in the evening or setting aside a few hours to work on an art project I have been wanting to do. I am also making it a priority to schedule in personal time not just on weekends, or on vacation, but in little snippets on lots of days. Going to get a pedicure with a girl friend, taking myself out to lunch, or spending a couple of hours browsing at the library or bookstore.
3. Think small.
I touched on this one in my last post, but I have a tendency to want to do everything to the extreme. It is easier for me to take a whole day off from work than it is to just take a half hour after lunch to sit and read a magazine. Or if I think about traveling, instead of trying to squeeze in a long weekend trip or a week long vacation, I want to go away for 2 months. When I think about doing a project with some of my personal photos, I feel like I need to go through every photo from my whole career rather than just creating a little book or display with some of my recent favorites. And the problem with that is, that when I can’t pull off the big version of what I want to do, I often end up not doing anything at all. So in 2016 I am going to try to focus more on thinking small… mini-trips, mini-work breaks, mini-projects, and mini-indulgences.
What do you want to focus on in 2016?
P.S. Photo above of me dipping my feet in the ocean was taken by my talented photographer friend Tom Robertson on our epic month-long bike touring adventure on the north island of New Zealand a few years back.