Monday, December 20, 2010

A better resolution: The New Year's Word.

At the beginning of 2010, I decided I was going to treat New Year's a little differently.  Rather than making up a resolution, I came up with a New Year's word.

Going into the New Year in 2010, I realized two things: A) I was too damn busy, and B) among the things I was busy with, I had lost the ability to discern those that I actually wanted to do, and those I felt like I had to do.  So for 2010, I made my word "balance," and in between January through March, the following three things happened:

1) I cut out all of my freelance writing projects,

2) I started going to the Austin Zen Center,

3) I traded my stressful cubicle job for a glorious work-from-home job.

That's basically what happened, anyway.

*  *  *

In March, one of my freelance jobs fired me after I turned in yet another late assignment.  When I realized how much happier I was without the weekly burden of writing for them, I wrote all of my other editors with a cordial, "I quit!" note.  And boom: 15-20 hours/week of my life back.

But before that happened, I was pulling out the hairs on the back of my neck, because that is what I do when I get stressed out.  I got out of the shower one January morning and felt scabs along my hairline at the base of my neck.  I thought, "maybe there's a better way."  So I searched for 'zen' in the podcasts part of my iPhone, found Zencast, downloaded a billion, found Austin Zen Center, and started going.

And before that happened, at the end of 2009,  I announced to Ross: "I'm sorry, it seems you have married a bitch."  Because that is what I was becoming.  I had gone from the laid-back kids' yoga teacher he asked out several years ago, to a constantly on-edge corporate suit.  In my spare moments, I fantasized about writing a tell-all memoir about this one very famous, very horrendous client.  To vent, I started writing lots of fake, unsent emails that began with the salutation "Dear Asshole," detailing all the atrocities they had committed against me.  It was a gross time.  Correction: a gross me.  I started looking for a new job.

And almost immediately after the new year began, in 2010, I got one.  Working less hours.  Working from home.  I am fifty times happier.

This extended rundown of events is my way of saying: The New Year's Word works, people.  There's an alternative to the New Year's Resolution, which all too often ends in disappointment and dashed hopes.  To me, the New Year's Word is looser, yet has an ability to focus all your actions to a single rallying point. And thus, is more effective.

At least, it was for me.  I realize how dangerously close to Law of Attraction territory this blog post is.  Maybe we're there already.  All I know is, once I decided that "balance" would be my word-slash-mantra for 2010, I no longer felt guilty about saying no to stuff, about directly cutting out stuff, about doing less.  Without my special New Year's Word, I might have felt lazy and rather un-American about not striving to do as much as I possibly could; with it, I felt 100% justified.

*  *  *

I was talking to Ross in the car yesterday about what 2011's words might be.  Here's what I've come up with so far:

1. Flexibility I have a tendency to visualize in my head how I want the day, or even the next 15 minutes to go, and when it doesn't work out that way,  I get a little peeved.  I think this is probably an only child thing.  For example, yesterday, Ross and I were on our way somewhere, and I asked, "can we stop by Natural Grocer so I can get that special drink I like?" I had already visualized us stopping by Natural Grocer you see, selecting my special drink, and enjoying it on the car ride.  When he said,"no, we're late," I got all silent and indignant and passive-aggressive.  And then when he asked, "is that ok?"  I said, "it is fine" in a way that meant, "NO, NOT FINE, I WANT MY SPECIAL DRINK."

I do this kind of thing all the time. So perhaps 2011 will be Year of Flexibility, yes?

2. Openness.  I began to worry that "flexibility" was slightly negative in its connotation, and that "openness" would be more all-inclusive. Open to the possibility that I won't always get my special drink, open to new experiences, open to whatever.  I'm not completely sold, but it's a contender.

3. Experimentation.  Eh, I know how that sounds.  That's not how I mean it.  I guess this is another way of saying, "Trying New Things!" except the things I want to try aren't entirely new.  I want to experiment with more offline writing, I want to take more dance classes but specifically aerial dance classes, I want to save up my money and maybe, maybe get another tattoo.  I just have one now, and kind of love it.

What will your New Year's Word be?  If I have convinced you, that is, to abandon ye olde New Year's Resolution.  If you do have a resolution though, go ahead and share. No judging, I promise.

23 comments:

Camille @ Style Notes said...

Tolly, I LOVE this idea!! I'm a big New Years resolution gal myself, since I am constantly striving to get better, smarter, healthier, make my biz better, etc etc... which can be a good thing except that it doesn't leave a lot of time to actually savor the amazing moments of everyday life! So maybe my word will be "SAVOR." Because really, what's the point of striving to create the life you want to live unless you actually take time to enjoy it?

Breanna said...

This is something I've been thinking about, too. I love the idea of just a word to focus on instead of a bunch of resolutions that, let's face it, won't be kept. :)

Camille, I really love SAVOR. That might be one of mine - I think I need at least a couple of words. My other word for 2011 is SIMPLIFY.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

Ooh! I like your words, ladies. @Camille - Savor. Yes! Ross and I always tell each other how lucky we are. "We're so lucky to live in this city." "We're so lucky to have each other." "I'm so lucky you cook for me." (Me, saying that to him). I think Savor is an awesome choice.

@Breanna - Simplify, cool. In what ways?

Breanna said...

Ohh, Simplify can mean so many things: Want/need less. Get rid of the negative/unnecessary [things, feelings, desires]. Don't overcomplicate - it only creates pointless drama.

I'm having a big war with STUFF right now and the desire to accumulate it. In 2011, I want to pare down and declutter my life in as many ways as I can so I can focus on what I really need and love. That's mainly what SIMPLIFY means to me.

Breanna said...

Ha, and of course, I just checked Zen Habits and Leo sums it up perfectly for me:

http://zenhabits.net/always-simple/

Katie said...

Fantastic post! I always create my goals at this time of year. Like everyone else I know the 'resolution' stuff won't work for me.

I'll need to think a bit on the words. I do like savor, though.

Ariel dancing is something I've been dying to try. Thanks for the link!

Christi @ Rumination Avenue said...

This is one of my favorite posts, Tolly. CREATE will be my intention for 2011. Create the life I want to live...

Was just thinking the other day I needed to make time to go to Austin Zen Center. Thanks for reminding me!

thefirstkitchen.com said...

Wow, that's a great idea!! Maybe my word will be... seize? Not as in seizures, but rather "seizing the day!" I like "savor" better though :)

Natalie

TrophyBoutique said...

I can't believe you didn't tell us what your special drink is.

PS (re: flexibility)I do the same thing. I can't help it, even though while I am acting that way I hate myself for it.

Gotta think of a good word. Patience, probably...

xo
Laurel

Megan said...

Mine will be 'liberating'. Like you were last year, I'm wrapped up in the stresses of every day life. And I am aware that I am doing it to myself. So I want to change things radically. Ooh, maybe it will be 'radical'--but in a good way.

Also, I so want to do those aerial silk classes! I looked into it after my trapeze lessons and then life kept going and I haven't done it yet. Let's go!

Corey said...

hmmm...this is a really good idea, actually. thanks for the thoughts :)

kellynD said...

I love this post! That's such a fantastic idea. I've never been a girl to stick to my resolution, and the idea of the New Year's Word is rather enticing. I think I need a hand full of words. Patience, Focus and I'm totally stealing Create. That is such a good one! I've got to learn to slow down and stop flying off the handle when things don't go according to plan...and I've got to stop procrastinating with EVERY SINGLE THING! Thanks for this! :)

Le Tigre said...

I think mine will be 'embrace'. ALSO want to take aerial silk classes!! My friend Sarah ( Agent Red ) http://www.agentred.net/classes-in-austin-tx teaches and WE need to go!!!

Tanya (a Taste of T) said...

Tolly I love this. I usually do resolutions but love the simplicity of a word. I'm leaning towards Abundance.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Breanna -- Along the same "simplify" lines, Ross and I are all about "purging" right now (as in, the kitchen, my closet, etc.) and it is freaking liberating. Clean house = clean mind.

@Katie -- Thanks! My friend and I are signing up for the Jan. 11 session. You should come do it with us! It's the beginner's class. :)

@Christi -- Ooh! I like "create." That's a good one.

@TheFirstKitchen -- LOL, "seizures." :) You know, along the lines of "seize," I tried out "openness" last night when my friend invited me to a party. I was sort of in the mood to go, but could have just as easily stayed home with coffee and book...anyway, I thought, "OPEN" and went to the party. It was ridiculously fun -- gay bar, a Tony Bennett cover band (& 8-piece orchestra! Inside the gay car!!), awesome company. So, seize! Get it girl.

@TrophyBoutique -- A) Laurel, I love your blog lately. B) My special drink is this weird vinegar + apple juice thing Bragg's makes. It is yummy. (To me, anyway).

@Megan -- LET'S SO GO! Kimmie and I are starting Jan. 11. For $220 you get 12 lessons. It's Tues/Thurs, 7-8:30, for 6 weeks. You in??

@Corey -- Cool! Glad you like it.

@KellyND - You are so not alone with flying off the handle when things don't go your way. Like Laurel, I hate myself when I get that way, too. But anyway -- I know! Isn't 'create' a good one?

@Le Tigre -- Aww, Lauren. Embrace. That one might be my favorite. And dude, Agent Red's BODY (not to be pervy here) convinces me to take aerial dance classes!! So lean and flexible! She's amazeballs.

@Tanya -- Ahh, abundance. In what ways, dollface?

Tanya (a Taste of T) said...

I was thinking love, happiness, relaxation, time spent on things that matter with the people that you care about, appreciation for all that Austin has to offer, nature...ok, I sound like a total hippie. I should preface this with I'm pregnant with my first kid and sunshine is currently radiating out of my ass.

:)

madelyn said...

Love this post!

Tolly - I totally have the same problem of getting something in my head, but I'm even worse at communicating and expect poor Cody to read my mind. And then get mad when he gets it wrong. How effed up is that? He's a good man for putting up with my crazy.

Mine might be "let go" ...of expectations, of inhibitions, of fear. Is there a better word for that? I want a word that embodies letting go and also trying new things - getting out of my comfort zone. Maybe it can be a New Years phrase?

Dad said...

Unlax. That's my New Year word for 2011. My Dad used that word all the time. It's from an old TV comedy show. It's more than just relax. Kind of like unwind and relax.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Tanya - LOL. Let it shine, girl! I think "abundant" is SUCH a marvelous word to describe your pregnancy state o' mind. You are, quite literally, giving yourself to another being. That is CRAZY. In a good way.

@Madelyn - Then "openness" might work for you too, then! I think of it like opening a fist. Releasing whatever was being clenched (like inhibitions), and in the same gesture, turning up an open palm (for new things).

I really had my doubts about "openness" because it sounded so vague, but already, I've been using it in my day-to-day, and it's making me calmer. And simultaneously more excited. Someone didn't book one of my authors and I really wanted them to, and I thought, "openness." Also, I registered for aerial dance classes in the name of new experiences. "Openness." I'm telling you -- something's there!!

@Dad - You were always a master of QUALITY relaxation. You don't just sit around - you go to freaking Costa Rica! And white water raft / zipline through the jungle! But that might be slightly more active than "unlaxing."

Yana said...

Tolly,

I recently quit a job that was creating severe anxiety in my life. I am working part time at a job I love, but still searching for something to add to the days I am off. Not gonna lie, it has been tough in this economy. I definitely struggle with simply settling on something just to make things easy. So, my word would probably be TENACITY- pursuing something without compromise in order to achieve a goal with purpose and intent.

I adore the resolution word idea. I think it would be lovely to be able to personalize a zen stone with your specific word on it to serve as a reminder of the word that translates to zen in your life!

Last but not least- Ballet Austin has amazing dance classes for adults. I take ballet there (with VERY minimal previous experience), and it is wonderful!

amy said...

I LOVE this idea!
I think I'll take a little bit of time to consider what my New Year's Word will be.... The tricky thing is to land on something that will help me find my best self and not choose a word that's easy-peasy, or something I'm already doing anyway. Hmmm. I'll be back with my word before New Years! Thanks for such a wonderful idea!

pinksundrops said...

Little late on the bandwagon, as usual, but I LOVE this idea. Sometimes I feel you and I live in parallel lives - only you are much more bubbly, accomplished, and vibrant :) . I, too, totally visualize things in my head and throw a private hissy fit when it doesn't go that way. This is definitely something I need to work on. Flexibility seems to match it perfectly, although I do love Openness, too, as it seems to convey an openness to new possibilities. Not sure if I'll do the New Year's Word completely, but I am sure I will work it in somehow.

Oh how much fun aerial dance classes would be! I've been wanting to do hot yoga, pole dancing lessons, or... something new. Aerial dance classes would definitely fit the bill, but unfortunately I only get to pick one, and I think I'll work on the hot yoga idea first to get my flexibility up.

Lucy said...

I love what you said under flexability. I DO THE EXACT SAME THING! I imagine getting the thing I want then when my bf says"no,blah blah blah" I get all upset over nothing. Btw I am an only child too...... lol