For the past two years and at various points in the past, I have chosen a word or theme to guide my focus over the course of the year. For 2014, I actually selected two words, simplicity and joy, but I felt that diluted my focus a bit, so I returned to one single word, deliberate, to guide me during 2015. I’ve opted to continue the practice of choosing a word for the year for 2016. This post will be centered around sharing that word, why I have selected it, and how I see my theme unfolding in the coming months.
2015 Word Debrief
But before I delve into my 2016 word, I want to do a bit of debriefing on my 2015 theme. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I wanted to be more deliberate in the home stretch of 2015. In that post, I mentioned that I would give an update when I shared my 2016 theme, so here goes. Sadly, I continue to struggle with staying up too late, although I had a few nights when I was better at getting to bed earlier. Staying up until the wee hours of the night tends to create a sort of “domino effect” in that I end up getting up later and everything else gets pushed back. Thus, I didn’t succeed in starting on my tasks for the day by 10:30 a.m. most days, either.
What I did do better at, though, was setting one to three key intentions for each day, and I’m going to continue to do that this year as well. Having key intentions not only brings more focus into my days, it also allows me to experience a greater sense of accomplishment through seeing that I am getting important things done.
My Theme for 2016
While I am moving on to a new theme for 2016, deliberate will continue to come into play, as being intentional about what I’m doing will be important for my new focus, which is balance. I didn’t need to ponder which word to select for this year much at all. I instinctively knew that balance was exactly the right word to guide me in the coming year. The only other word I even considered was “peace,” but after a bit of thought, I realized that if I can cultivate balance for myself, peace will inevitably follow.
During 2015, my life became very unbalanced. I stayed up far too late, consumed an excessive amount of information, spent way too much time on Facebook, and devoted too great a percentage of my time to other people’s problems besides my own. I didn’t get enough sleep, fell behind on things that were important to me, got too stressed out, and my health declined considerably. I don’t know how much different my health would be now had I been more in balance over the past year, but it definitely wouldn’t have hurt. Stress can certainly negatively impact our health and I know that has been the case for me. It’s beyond time for me to turn all of these negative habits and patterns around!
Balance in My Wardrobe
There are areas of imbalance in my wardrobe and with my shopping, too, but I’m not struggling nearly as much in those areas as in other facets of my life. However, I do need to place a greater level of focus on my at-home wardrobe and dedicate a larger proportion of my clothing dollars to that closet category. If I were to create a pie chart of my life activities and a second pie chart of my wardrobe components, I would quickly see that my closet is out of balance along with the rest of my life. I spend the bulk of my time at home, so I need to spend a much larger chunk of my clothing budget on that section of my wardrobe.
Balance will also manifest through my wearing the clothes I love most and letting go of those pieces that no longer serve me. I did a lot of this through my “Love it, Wear it” wardrobe challenge (LIWI), which I will debrief shortly. Instead of pushing myself to wear pieces that I didn’t really love, I allowed myself to just wear what I felt most drawn to. This led to the gradual creation of a closet that better serves my needs and a greater proportion of outfits that I feel good about. I will continue this focus in 2016 even though I won’t specifically be doing LIWI in terms of creating a “working closet” and doing monthly updates. I’m already doing this by asking myself what I most want to wear when I stand in front of my closet each day, and building an outfit around the selected piece.
I have written a few times about the impact of information overload on my life, including in this dedicated post, but I have yet to adequately address it. Although I shifted away from having physical magazine subscriptions and have drastically pared down my book collection, I continue to consume far too much information on a regular basis. Case in point, I subscribe to 51 blogs in my feed reader, am a member of 46 Facebook groups (most of which I don’t spend any time in, but still)! I also typically have thirty or more tabs open in my browser and spent several hours this week alone cleaning them out. My email in-box is almost always full and I’ve been quite delinquent in responding to messages as of late.
I rarely read books anymore because I’m so busy reading blog posts, articles, and Facebook threads! I would like to get back to reading books more often and tone down the other types of reading I do. I love blogs; after all, I am a blogger myself. But it really is all about balance. I don’t need to read so many blogs and I don’t need to read every single post written by the blogs I follow. A lot of it comes back to FOMO. I get so afraid that I will miss out on potentially life-changing information that I won’t unsubscribe from blogs or leave Facebook groups. But I really must, as it’s all too much!
Out of Balance Friendships
As I’ve mentioned previously, most of my interaction with other people occurs online. While I value my online connections, this is out of balance. I would like to have more face-to-face interaction with people. It doesn’t have to be equal; it just needs to feel more balanced. Even just one face-to-face interaction per week (beyond my husband, who I am grateful to see every day) would probably be enough for me. After all, I am an introvert. A little goes a long way for us. Of course, I need to meet more people in order to make this happen and that feels difficult given my health challenges, but even some steps in the right direction would help to bring more balance to my connections.
I’ve also struggled with lack of balance within some of my friendships. I’m a person who likes to give and wants to help others, which has led me to attract people who are needy and more prone to taking. I’m not very good at setting boundaries with friends, particularly some of the sick people I’ve met in my Facebook groups. If they message me when they’re in a health crisis, which is most of the time for some of them, it’s very hard not to chat with them. It’s also challenging for me to end conversations when someone is in a very bad way. I’m far too likely to sacrifice my own needs for others, and that has contributed to my relationships being out of balance. This needs to change and I need to start honoring myself and my limits more.
And Then There’s Health…
I am definitely out of balance when it comes to my body and health. Although some of it is out of my control (yet I am trying my best to find answers and solutions), there are areas in which I can make changes. The greatest change that I’m empowered to make involves my sleep. I very rarely get more than six hours of sleep per night and that’s catching up with me in that I feel tired most of the time and have trouble concentrating on anything. I feel exhausted in the afternoons and early evenings, but get a “second wind” late at night. I go to bed too late and suffer from insomnia. Thus, I usually don’t fall asleep until after 2 a.m. I sleep in to some degree, but I generally can’t stay in bed past 8 or maybe 9.
I have read that our bodies do the bulk of their repair work and regeneration while we are sleeping. So if I’m typically getting only five or six hours of sleep per night, my cells are probably not repairing themselves as well as they could be. My lack of sleep could be contributing to my health challenges or at least standing in the way of my getting well. I also feel stressed out and overwhelmed much of the time even though I don’t really have a stressful life when compared to most people. This is likely due to adrenal fatigue, which I will have to continue to work to overcome, but some stress management activities could be helpful for me, including meditation, journaling, and being in nature (like my regular walks by the water, which help a lot).
I have a healthy diet and I am using both conventional and alternative modalities to try to overcome my various health conditions. I do as much exercise as I can and try to do something that brings me joy every day. But I could certainly improve upon both my sleep and stress management activities. This could go a long way toward getting my health more in balance.
The Bottom Line
So I gave a basic overview of how my life is currently out of balance and alluded to some ways in which I’m hoping to turn it around. I feel I’ve already started to make some subtle shifts just since taking on “balance” as my word for 2016. But here are some specific changes that I would like to make this year:
- Cut back on the number of blogs I read. I would like to decrease the number by at least a third and maybe as much as half. I can always swap out some blogs or add a few back if I miss them. But 51 blogs is just too many to keep up with on a regular basis.
- Decrease my Facebook group membership. I had no idea until today how many Facebook groups I belonged to. Even though some of those groups are either defunct or have very low activity, it’s still out of hand. I would like to leave at least half of them and just keep the ones that I feel add value to my life.
- Decrease my overall time on Facebook. Although I love the online friends with whom I interact on Facebook, I often spend so much time there that it’s impinging upon other things I need and want to do. I don’t have a specific time limit in mind right now, but I’m going to track my Facebook activities and aim to cut back to a more reasonable level (TBD after I see how much time I am spending there now).
- Read at least one book per month. I used to love reading books and I’d like to get back into it. I have a number of books that I would like to read, either in physical or digital form. I would also like to complete all of the exercises in “To Buy or Not to Buy” and at least one other personal development book. If I cut back on blogs, Facebook groups, and overall Facebook time, that should free me up enough so that I can read more books this year.
- Aim for one face-to-face interaction per week. This can be getting together with a friend one on one or attending a class or group meeting. Yes, there may be times when I’ll need to cancel these things due to my health issues, but I have to at least try. I can’t wait until my health is a lot better to even attempt to be social in the real world. After all, I don’t even know when or if that will happen. I need to do my best now to interact with other people in person. I almost always enjoy it when I do, so I have to make it more of a priority despite my fears and limitations.
- Go to bed earlier and get more sleep! I have never really needed a full eight hours of sleep, but I could definitely benefit from seven hours. I used to go to bed more like midnight or 12:30 and I’d like to get back to that and wake up around 7:30 rather than between eight and nine. Sometimes I stay up too late because I’m trying to finish something, but my overall productivity has decreased significantly because I’m so sleep-deprived. Even writing this blog post is taking me what seems like forever because I can’t really think straight at all.
- Place my shopping focus on my at-home wardrobe this year. For far too long, I have shopped for “out and about” clothes and let my at-home wardrobe take a back seat. But that’s just silly because I spend the bulk of my time at home. I need to put my clothing dollars to their best use by spending them on what I need most and wear regularly. Of course, some items have crossover potential in that they can be worn both at home and out, but I also need some nicer dedicated lounge wear items and workout clothes. I want to feel attractive, comfortable, and stylish in everything I wear, not just when I am going out somewhere.
I’m sure other goals and actions will arise as the year progresses, but the above are a good start. I will include updates on these intentions in my accountability updates, which I may move to quarterly instead of monthly this year. No matter how often I do accountability updates on the blog, my “full life” actions need to be included, as they are actually more important than the clothes I buy and how much money I spend.
I believe that “balance” was the perfect word for me to select for 2016 and I feel encouraged that it will help to take my life in a more positive direction. Of course, I’ll have to continue to be deliberate (my 2015 word) in what I do this year in order to create more balance in my life. These two words really go hand in hand and I feel that I selected them in the proper order, too. I’m ready to let go of the imbalance and overwhelm in my life and replace those things with balance and peace. It starts now…
Some Resources and Your Thoughts?
If you’d like to select a word for this year and need some guidance, here are a few resources for you:
- “One Powerful Word: A Simple Approach to New Year’s Resolutions”
- “My Word for 2016 and How to Choose Yours”
- “Find Your Word for 2016!” – a free 5-day email class to help you figure out your word
Now it’s your turn to chime in. Have you selected a word for 2016? If so, what is it and why did you choose it? I’d also love for you to share your word for 2015 and how it helped to shape your life last year. As always, you’re welcome to ask me questions or offer feedback on what I have written in this post.
Have a wonderful weekend! I will be back soon with some more 2015 wrap-up posts, including my year-end accountability update, a look at my wardrobe “benchwarmers” and “all-stars,” and a debrief on my “Love it, Wear it” closet challenge (LIWI).