In the last two weeks of every one of the past 25+ years, I have spent some time sitting with myself, with the past year and my hopes for my future. During that time, I pick a few words or phrases to help define and guide my year ahead. They’re not so much resolutions as they are talismans to remind myself of what I want to focus on and what is deserving of my energy and time. This year, I’ve selected two words to guide and focus my journey as I head towards where I want to be, and who I want to be, at the end of 2019. I share them with you here, in the hopes that you might find them useful, or a springboard to your own words and phrases. And also because these two words come with a bit of accountability around them. My words for this year are complete and voice.
Are you one of those people who starts things, but never finishes them? I’ll tell you a secret. I am TOTALLY that person. I’m a big idea girl. I like options and adventures and looking forward to new things coming down the pipeline. I’m just not always great at completing these projects. As a creative, it can be hard to finish all the things because I just want them to be as good in reality as they are in my head – or I create a HUGE project and then can’t seem to start unless I have the time to finish it properly (spoiler: I tell myself over and over that I just don’t have the time today, which is also a lie) – or there are so many things that I want to do that I can’t even decide where to start. All of these things get in the way, and I just don’t finish what I’ve started – forever caught up in tinkering and reworking , or just in getting ready to begin. I tell myself things like, “I’m too tired or tapped out creatively to keep going after hours,” as if creativity is draining, or something that you can run out of. I tell myself that I just need to have all the tools and things in place before I can begin. All lies to keep myself from completion. The funniest part – I love doing the work when I’ve finally managed to get over myself and just start the damn thing – even if that starting has to happen over and over – moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day.
This year, I’m choosing complete as one of my words, to remind myself that sometimes done is better than perfect and that things can be in fact planned out – or tinkered and reworked- to death. Creativity has a way of flowing along, and I need to embrace it and move with it – not bog it down with doubts or lists of prerequisites. Also, creativity begets more creativity, rather than depleting it. So those excuses that I’ve been creative all day and I don’t have any more creativity left for myself – those lies are getting tossed out with the old year. My goal this year is to finish what I start. I choose participation and completion over planning and procrastination.
Complete has other meanings for me as well. Complete is also about self-love and self-care. It means being kinder to yourself – knowing that you’re more than enough and already a badass. It’s the deep understanding that, while I may in fact be a work in progress, I am not incomplete in who I am. The same is true for you.
I’ve always had a strong, “confident in who I am,” voice. I’m outspoken. I feel very deeply and strongly about things, and I rarely pull any punches when voicing those thoughts. This often breeds trouble, and I have learned the lesson that words matter – that they have value, and importance, and impact far beyond original intentions. That lesson has certainly taught me to be more thoughtful before I speak, or to spend more time listening. But the past couple of years have been a struggle for a lot of people’s voices – we’re all trying to scream over each other or (EVEN WORSE) trying to silence each other (or ourselves). I’m as guilty of this as anyone – especially the screaming over others or allowing myself to be silenced (or not even speaking in the first place). Just because you’ve found your voice doesn’t mean you can’t also lose it from time to time – and I have struggled with that a lot over the past 5 years or so. There are definitely times where I am afraid to use my voice. I still have moments when I’m trying to speak my truth, or even just speak up, and I can feel the constriction in my throat that signals that I’m not truly owning my voice and having deep seated anxiety over the consequences it might bring.
This year, I’m making a promise to myself. I’m going to embrace my voice and use it. I’ll strive to use it in a thoughtful way, but I’m not going to apologize for being who I am, or for making noise, or for having opinions & ideas. I’m going to speak up and speak out. I’m going to continue to use my voice to help others. To speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves, and to amplify the words of those who don’t have a voice or whose voice is discounted. I will continue to use my voice – and to embrace and honor it. I won’t be silenced or forced to say things that go against who I am or what I believe. And I won’t stand by while others are silenced, even if that means there are consequences.
For me, this year I also want to share my written voice more. I write every day. Every. Day. And yet, I rarely share those words publicly (or even privately). Often because I don’t think anyone really wants to read what I’ve written, or even cares what I have to say. Or I’m afraid of fallout & consequences. Or the perfectionist in me doesn’t think they’re quite ready (see “Complete”). In so many ways, I’ve silenced my own voice – and then tried to make that okay by telling myself I’m guarding my own privacy or protecting others. But it’s really driven by fear. And I’m letting that go this year. I will own my words and share them. And be proud of both the words and the sharing.
It’s a new year – and a chance to reset and refocus and move ever forward into the adventures and experiences that are awaiting us. As always, I leave you with my wishes for you for the new year: A List of Things You Cannot Buy, but that are invaluable. Alright 2019, let’s do this thing!