I love the New Year. I love resolutions. I love talking and thinking and puzzling and planning. Everything about it, I love it all.
At New Year, we mark what has gone before, honor the journey that has led us to the present moment, and hope for the growth ahead.
And if you’re like me, you make a plan.
Obviously, you can start any time, but I like the forced reflection that the turning of the calendar brings. Recognizing the unrelenting passage of time. The push forward, ever forward, whether you want to go or not.
Typically, I reflect on resolutions and look at approaching the year ahead in broad themes of how I want to be. And then I ladder up small specific goals to those themes.
Since 2012, turn to God has been at the top of my list. It still is, but my approach this year is different. Less free form, more methodical. It’s a project.
My bestie and I decided to start a long distance book club last fall. We listen to books on Audible and then discuss on the phone. We read The Happiness Project, and an idea germinated—what would a project like this look like for each of us?
The author’s project started because she wanted to be happier and wondered if it was possible to change habits and actively pursue happiness. As she notes, research shows happiness is a largely dispositional proposition. Basically, each person has a happiness range, and my general disposition is a pretty happy one. So I don’t really need a happiness project.
I’m more of a seeker. And what I am pursuing is purpose.
Purpose feels intangible, almost ephemeral. We all talk about it a lot, but there’s not a lot of substance to what the it is. But all current research points to needing a sense of purpose to engage your intrinsic motivation, find flow, and achieve a sense of fulfillment.
So how do you find this purpose? And once you do, once you can clearly articulate it, how do you pursue it?
I don’t have answers to those questions, not yet. That’s the work ahead of me.
What I liked about The Happiness Project is the author’s organized approach. Be clear about your priorities, set goals, and map actionable steps to those priorities and goals with a monthly focus on one area.
So on January 2 (because we all deserve a day to recover from NYE), I began my 2018 project. A name for it doesn’t feel like it’s fully materialized yet. And rather than get hung up on a name, for now, it’s just my project.
12 months focused on my priorities, pursuing my goals, and grounded in principles that I articulated for how I want to live and be in the world and in my interactions with others.
My priorities are:
- Family. Friends.
- Fulfilling work.
- Creating beauty.
- Living generously.
- Travel. Adventure.
Every month will have a different focus area. My intention is for each of my month-long focus areas to be building blocks that develop better disciplines and habits to achieve my overall goals. For example, in January, I’m working to Master the Morning because developing a better morning routine is foundational to achieving the rest of the project.
My bestie is doing her own project. And hers looks different from mine.
I may annoyingly love the New Year and New Year’s resolutions. But it’s because of the promise it holds, the questions it begs… Will you grow? Will you go forward changed? Will you take paths to better yourself? Will you do the hard work?
Some years we need a rest, but that’s not 2018 for me. It’s time to go deep, know myself better, and do some work.
And if you are on a similar journey or are interested in getting started on your own, I would love to have a conversation about what’s working and what’s not. Mutual encouragement and learning is an amazing thing. There’s never a bad time to start.