Last month, I had the distinct pleasure of attending an AIGA Hampton Roads presentation given by Matthew Muñoz, chief design officer and partner at New Kind. His presentation, Designing a Year, was all about applying the skillsets we use everyday in our jobs to our personal lives — to achieve goals and take intentional action.
It was an incredibly timely event for me to attend because this concept was something I’d been turning over in my mind for several months. You see, I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve certainly made them in the past — and failed to keep almost every single one. Why is that? I think it’s because I didn’t view any of the resolutions I’ve been making all these years as truly empowering. They were based on taking things away from myself and doing things I dreaded — lose weight, eat better, give up soda, etc — even if they’d make me “better” in the long run and were sort of things I wanted. They were “nice to haves.” So I decided I wasn’t going to make any more of these stupid resolutions. Instead, I was going to choose an empowering focus for my year, and keep that idea — mantra, if you will — front and center.
Flash forward to January 17, 2013, the night of Matt’s presentation. I was slowly falling into the same patterns as years prior — taking on way too much, saying “yes” to everyone, and maintaining the façade of the gal who’s always got it together. That day, I had taught my very first class (Classy Clever Social Media, in partnership with Tidewater Community College’s Academy for Nonprofit Excellence), and then went onto the event assuming my duties as president of AIGA Hampton Roads — helping with registration, announcements, introducing our speaker, etc. I was only running on about four hours of sleep, been up since 5:30am, and “on” for over eleven hours. By the time I sat down, my body had clearly had enough and I was on the verge of passing out — quite literally! The universe likes to send me giant flashing billboards as signs because I continually ignore the subtle hints. Yea, yea… I got it: slow down. Loud and clear.
In between trying to not hit the floor, I did get to take in a lot of what Matt said, and I realized how much it paralleled the concept I’d been cooking up. Basically, as each New Year approaches, each one of us should spend a little time deciding what type of impact the coming year would have on our lives. We need to start with a simply stated belief that allows us to name our year, and then define action steps to help us through.
So I’m sure you’re wondering… what had I decided my year was about? Well, I believe that I’m too busy overall and that I’m never truly in the moment enjoying life. I have no true division between my personal and professional life; it all kind of just runs together — working, teaching, volunteering, and on and on. I can’t go more than about five seconds without checking my phone; whether that’s one of the five email addresses I have or the endless social media accounts I’ve established, text messages, reading various blogs I’ve subscribed to, etc. I don’t make enough time for my family or friends; I must owe them dozens of coffee/lunch/dinner dates and get-togethers. I can rarely be spontaneous and almost every moment of the day is scheduled down to the minute. Organized, yes. Efficient, yes. Enjoyable, no. One could argue I did this to myself and you’re right, but I love all these “commitments.” They just got a little out of hand and took over my life… so much so that I hardly recognize it anymore.
That’s why I’ve decided 2013 will be my Year of Presence.
It’s about bearing witness to the “now.” Being present in each moment. Truly enjoying the time I have with my family and friends, showing them how much they mean to me, because life is way too short to be this stressed out. I want to finally take some “me” time and revel in the incredible life I have right now. I’m lucky and blessed, and want to spend some time appreciating that.
And, how am I going to get there? I’m going to learn to say “no.” No matter how badly I might want to say “yes,” I have to face the reality that there are only so many hours in the day. I have to delegate. I have to acknowledge the fact that I can’t fix it all and be everything to everyone. I’m going to bow out of many of the commitments I’ve made once my time has been served, and not sign up for additional responsibilities. I’m going to learn what it’s like to take a break and have free time. This is going to be one of the most exciting initiatives I’ve ever done!
Now I challenge you to think about your life and decide what your year is going to be about. Can you relate to any of this? Use the image prompt below to help form your belief statement and reveal your year in the comments below!
Originally published at works-progress.com on February 18, 2013.