I have a little New Year’s Day tradition. Every New Year’s Day for the last four or five years I’ve done some goal setting and I don’t think that’s new or novel for anybody. What I started to do was not just set goals, but visually layout what I hope the year ahead will look like. Some may call this vision boarding and there are other names for it as well, but I try not to get hung up on specifics. I think about how I want to feel in the coming year, more so than trying to define specific goals. I think look for images that align with these feelings. I try to align the actual subject matter of the image, but also the colours used and things like the viewpoint or perspective of the photo. I try not to think over-think it or get too technical about it, but aim for the photos to feel right. I’ve also started adding some words or short phrases that describe the way I hope my upcoming year will unfold. For example, in 2020 my word was PLAY. Have I done as much playing in 2020 as I would’ve hoped? If I’m speaking honestly, probably not. There were a lot of curveballs thrown at the world in 2020 but I’m still glad I intentionally thought about this word at the beginning of the year. Using that word helped me focus on what was most important for me this past year, which was looking after my two little girls and play is obviously a big part of that. So consciously and subconsciously I think that establishing play as my word helped me make important decisions and prioritize what I took on and what I said no to.
This type of exercise is especially well-suited to visual thinkers like myself. I encourage you to try it today if you’re listening to this on January 1, or anytime you need a bit of a refresh or refocusing as to what the priorities should be in your life. For example, this would be a really great exercise to do at the beginning of each season or maybe at the beginning of September, which is the start of the academic year for lots of people and to me it feels like a second new year.
So happy goal setting if that’s what you’re into and you may want to choose a couple of photos (or even just a single photo) that helps clarify less what you want to do in the coming year and how you want to feel.
And if you’re wondering what word I’ve selected for 2021, it’s ENERGY. Not so much that I’m looking for more energy within myself (I mean I’d love that, who wouldn’t?!); instead I want to tap into subtle sips of energy that come my way.
I’m the kind of person who dives into a project headfirst and I don’t come up for air until it’s over. At which point I look for the next project pool to dive into, get lost underwater for a time, and while I enjoy being down there I know it can be a lot for those around me. I know that I sometimes miss out on the energy from those around me, which goes a long way to making life worth living. For example, there are times when I’ve had my head shoved in a book or in my laptop when my girls are playing gleefully in front of me (the word PLAY is still, very much, at the forefront too). But what I want to spend more time doing is engaging and re-energizing in these moments of play and joy for their sake as well as mine. I think a big reason that 2020 was so challenging for a lot of people was there were a lot of distractions (albeit important distractions) that put people in a position where they were turning away from the energy of the humans around them, or in many cases they are simply weren’t as many humans around us whose energy we could feed off of. I felt this a lot in my teaching. Moving to a completely online “Zoom University” format meant that I didn’t have the same experience feeling the energy that I used to feel with students present. And whether that was positive high energy or even stressful or tired low energy, it was something. For me, that in-person presence is something I really miss and I think it has a lot to do with the give-and-take of human energy. So I have chosen to make ENERGY my word of 2021, hoping to tap into whatever sips of energy I can, as well as sharing my own energy as much as possible. I think it will make all the difference.
Here’s to an energetic 2021!
Podington Bear - Dragonslayer
Talk Paper Scissors Theme Music: Retro Quirky Upbeat Funk by Lewis Sound Production via Audio Jungle
Purple Hand: Canva