So long 46. It’s been another wild ride around the sun.
As always, I indulge in a good bit of navel-gazing as I celebrate my personal new year. I have a habit of looking back and considering what the previous year was about. It’s a sort of mental wrap-up that allows me to put the year in a box and tie it up with a neat little ribbon. It’s closure for all the ups, downs, successes, failures, surprises, disappointments and everything in between. Then I can look forward into the next year to decide what I want more of, less of, and what needs improving.
Forty-six was filled with so much of the things I love. It was a very full and rewarding year in many ways. Lots of wonderful trips and time with great people. Yet when I look back with the intent of deciding what I want to improve in the coming year, I see an undercurrent. It’s the feeling of having done a lot of things that were disjointed and ineffective. For all of the effort put into adventures, work, and life, I feel like I flailed through the year. I felt scattered.
In fact, I’ve been writing about it all year without necessarily seeing the over-arching narrative. From my woes in photography to removing obstacles, languishing skills to struggles managing my travels, and even issues with which motorcycles are in the garage, I’ve not managed to get my act together. I’ve had some successes, of course, like reviving lost travel experiences and my photography mojo. But those seem to be one offs—valiant efforts that didn’t result in finding much traction towards remedying my foibles.
The funny thing about feeling so scattered is that I’m actually in a wonderful place in my life. On a daily basis, I have a lot of joys to celebrate and I’m grateful for each day I get to wake up and be alive again. The flip side is that I’m also clearly still making that transition to my new life in Nevada and not always on the mark in honoring my core values for what I want out of life in the bigger picture.
The most important question
A lot of people choose a theme for each year—a word, phrase, or saying to keep themselves motivated or focused. I’ve always liked the idea but have never been able to make it work for me. Finding a mantra that encompasses all I want to accomplish in a year, or even simply picking one area of self-improvement to focus on, has always eluded me.
My realization this year is that I don’t need a mantra. What I need is to ask myself the most important question at each decision point I face. From the biggest quandaries on down to daily habits and choices, I need to ask myself
Am I being deliberate?
By making deliberate, thoughtful choices, I can avoid so much of what undermined an otherwise great year. It’s the umbrella question of the decision-making process. Under it lies the more nuanced questions. What do I want more of and less of? What is adding to my life and what is detracting? Does “x” move me further toward where I want to be? Is doing “y” a waste of time? Those kinds of questions are about making sure I’m not squandering my time with efforts that, in the end, don’t contribute to what I want out of life. It forces me to focus on worthwhile, actionable tasks.
Being deliberate has connotations of mindfulness but with a little different context. Being mindful is basically paying attention, right? To be present in the moment is a practice I both embrace and find challenging. Extending that to being deliberate in my choices is paying attention in a different way. It’s honoring where I invest my time and energy so that I do it wisely and feel capable, successful, and rewarded as a result.
Keep moving forward
As I look into 47, I know I can do better. I know I can set myself up for success in the things I love instead of feeling like I’ve cat-herded my way through everything. It will take time to demolish physical and mental obstacles and rebuild workable systems that have me successfully out doing what I love most.
It’s a tall order to change a mindset. With some hard work, by this time next year I will be celebrating that triumph! Thanks for following along through my year of faffing about. I look forward to sharing the next part of the journey.
For some inspirational reading, should you share my state of existential crisis, check out this piece from Mark Manson about decision making.
Adventure on, friends. One deliberate decision at a time.