I’ve always loved the New Year’s resolution of choosing a single word to focus on for the entire year ahead. You’ve probably heard of something similar to this. Maybe someone chooses ‘gratitude’ or ‘kindness’ or ‘abundance’ or, I don’t know, ‘pasta’ and then they spend the entire year going back time after time to that one theme. It’s exactly the “create the life you want” kind of shit that I can’t get enough of, but still, I’ve never really done this myself. Partly this is because I love planning and goal-setting too much to just choose one tiny word. I need my lists and my journal prompts and hours spent plotting how I’m going to completely change my life with charts and graphs and personalized daily affirmations. It’s one of my favorite parts of the year.
Admittedly, though, my love of fresh starts means I have gone a little too hard in the past with setting goals. I’ve set myself up for failure more times than I can count, and I’ve spent entire years dismissing any accomplishments I did achieve because I didn’t also lose X-amount of weight. I really thought that whatever I did that was good wouldn’t matter as much as it would if I was thin. But in 2021, I’m happy to say I took a gentler approach to goal and intention setting (thank you, therapy). It’s not that I didn’t have a thousand different plans and goals for the new year, same as always, but I thought about them differently.
I gave myself a lot of grace to work towards goals slowly, carefully, and to build habits gradually. If I missed a week or a month of hitting my goals, it didn’t matter. I pushed forward anyway, focusing on the things that were most important to me. And for the first time, I allowed myself to write down exactly what I wanted for the year (from “make a dentist appointment, finally” to “write a book”). A year later, I was able to look back on the 12 months of chaos that were 2021 and see how much I had grown.
It’s not that I perfectly achieved every goal (I didn’t). But for once, I was listing off all the ways I showed myself love in the past year instead of counting the things I hadn’t achieved. I realized that in the past, I had shied away from “manifesting” things — from physically writing down something like “I will write a book” or “I will make $X” — because I was scared of what it meant if I didn’t achieve those things. Of what it meant about me if I failed. And honestly? I think part of me also didn’t let myself write them down because I didn’t think I deserved those achievements at all if I wasn’t achieving them in a “perfect” body. Setting that thinking on fire and throwing it out the window changed my whole damn life. Highly recommend.
But let’s get to the new year, shall we?
For 2022, I decided to build on what worked last year and spend this January doing a lot of the same goal and intention-setting activities as I did in 2021. I developed a daily journaling process. I wrote a letter to my future self. I wrote my goals as “I WILL…” statements. I continued my monthly bubble method of tracking tasks and habits. And I also chose two words to focus on in the new year — but it was kind of by accident. In November, I ordered a necklace (shop exact necklace here) as a gift for myself (because why not?). When I saw that the company offered free engraving, I decided it would be a good opportunity to choose a phrase I’d like to keep close to me. So I picked the first thing that came to mind: Just one.
As in, just one life. Just one today. Just one moment. Just one you.
Now, I realize that you may read this and say, “So…. YOLO? Your big focus of the new year is… YOLO?” And, yes, OK, I guess it is the same thing as YOLO. But here’s the thing with phrases like “you only live once” or “life is short” — they’re empty. Until they’re not. The phrase “you have just one life” didn’t mean anything to me until I experienced real loss. “You only life once” didn’t mean anything to me until I knew just what it means to have someone be part of your world one minute and completely gone the next. When I realized that every day any of us is here is a fucking miracle. So when people ask me, as they sometimes do, “How do you get over feeling self-conscious about your body?” or “How did you move past the fear that you can’t do it and write a book?” this is my answer:
It’s not that I learned how to love every part of my body (I still really, really don’t) or that I stopped thinking that maybe I was not a very good writer at all and WTF am I doing (I have this thought daily). I still have to take a deep breath before I take off a bathing suit cover-up and I still actively feel like throwing up when someone reads my writing. I am scared of so many things. I am insecure about a million more. And the only thing that snaps me out of that fear is reminding myself of the brevity of life. That if I deprive myself of an experience now, that there’s no guarantee I’ll get it again.
And guess what? It works. Every single time I feel the fear and I look at it and say, “Alright, move over. We’re doing this damn thing, anyway. Asshole,” I feel more powerful than I do any other time in my life. Because I had every voice in my head screaming at me that I am not worthy, that it will be safer to do things another way and I listened to another voice, the one that’s really mine. The one that knows I deserve to live like this is it. Because it is.
Look, this isn’t to say I’m going to sell all my belongings and travel the country in a van. Or go sky diving once a month. Or do whatever other shit people think of when they think of, well, YOLO. I guess I just want to spend the rest of my life, however long or short it may be, believing that I’m worthy of living it however I want more often than I listen the insecurities, the doubts. If I do that, then why wouldn’t I quit my job, or write a book, or ask for an extra bread bowl at dinner, or wear a bikini, or run a marathon, or smile with all my teeth, or live in Italy for a month, or read 100 books in a year, or do it all. Do anything.
So I have the words on my necklace, and I find my hands going there pretty much every day. And I run my fingers over the tiny words and I think about all the tiny things I might not have done had I let myself believe to the fear instead of myself.
PS: “Superbloom” by Misterwives came on as I finished writing this and, wow, the endorphins flowing through my body. Absolutely incredibly. Highly suggest if you’ve just read this and feel excited to live life and/or sky dive.