Don’t you wish that a new year actually meant a completely fresh start? We hear so much rhetoric around this. It leaves me feeling disillusioned or like I am failing somehow. The reality is that the challenges I was facing last year didn’t magically disappear when I switched to a new calendar. I am still the same person bringing in the same habits and thinking patterns. The external circumstances haven’t changed and, in fact, are likely to get worse over the coming months. It would be easy to give in to despair and write off setting any goals or intentions.
I have a choice whether to stay in victim mode or take radical responsibility for my life. This is a both/and situation. Challenges continue with many things beyond my control AND I can take steps forward. Uncertainty makes planning ridiculously difficult AND I can still set intentions for my year. I will not view the world through naïve optimism, but I will also not allow discouragement to rule my life.
For the past couple of years, I have focused on a manifesto of intentions, as well as setting a few specific goals. In many ways, that manifesto hasn’t changed (you can catch up on that series here). Those phrases will continue to be foundational for my life, however, I have simplified for this year.
Word of the year
You may be familiar with the idea of having a word for the year. I have practised this for several years. Some years that word has stayed front and centre. Other years, I can’t even remember what it was and must dig through my end of year reflections or previous blog posts to find it! I have set a word for this year once again that summarises all the specific goals I have set- healthy.
When circumstances and challenges won’t change, I need to change how I live in the midst of them. It goes without saying that the past two years have been tough. Last year was particularly difficult for me personally. I could see red flags of burnout and times of questioning my choices and direction. I need to change my habits and approach if I want to go beyond surviving for the year ahead. Maybe you are in the same position.
I made significant changes in my physical health a number of years ago. There is even a chapter in my book Stepping Up In Leadership called ‘Leading myself well by taking care of my body’. I know the importance of this and the impact it has on all areas of my life and leadership. And yet, the past two years saw most of that positive change undone. My eating patterns were dominated by comfort eating and convenience. My exercise routines went out the window. Sleep has not been a priority. The end result has been low energy, feeling subpar, my clothes not fitting and battling increased back and shoulder pain again.
I have always been really cautious about setting intentions or goals around my physical health. I have battled periods of disordered eating that teetered on the brink of taking me down a dark path. Obsession in these areas can be a problem. I also don’t want to dive into the trap of society’s obsession with weight and looks. ‘Healthy’ is a way for me to engage in taking care of my body without setting goals around weight.
I want to focus on nourishing my body with nutritious food, movement I enjoy and sleep. Success will not be measured on a scale or clothing size. It will be measured by my energy levels, my lack of pain and my ability to engage in life and fun with my daughter.
Mentally and emotionally
I list this as a separate category to physically but fully recognise that they are inextricably linked. Each will impact the other. I am still working on plans for this area (other than the physical already mentioned) but here is what I have so far:
- Engage with mentors or a coach regularly and intentionally.
- Journal a few lines each night in my new five year journal.
- Re-establish my workday start up and shutdown rituals.
- Get to bed earlier- using an evening ritual to help.
- Re-engage with creative hobbies instead of just numbing out on devices.
In my business
Launching your own business is tough without a global pandemic. I haven’t been giving it the focus needed either. This year is crunch time in many ways. My most specific goals for this year are for my business and the income I want to generate to support my family. ‘Healthy’ for my business means that I am working for income more consistently and setting aside regular time to invest in this work.
I love being able to provide free content through the blog and my podcast. I want to continue to be able to do that and volunteer for the not-for-profit organisation while having the space to be the mum and wife I want to be. My heart is to equip and encourage others. Reality means I need income to pay bills too.
In my team
I lead a team of incredible women. That team has been drastically impacted over the past two years. We have some work to do to function well as a team and rebuild our organisation. I can’t change them but I can make changes to the way I lead. I was in my role for less than two months before the pandemic turned everything upside down. The learning curve has been steep and I have made a lot of mistakes along the way in decisions I’ve made but also in how I have brought people on the journey with me. I am taking responsibility for ways I need to improve and will be holding my team responsible for theirs.
In my relationships
I am incredibly grateful for my friends and family. I wouldn’t still be standing without them. This is one area that I think has come through the past two years pretty well. ‘Healthy’ looks like not neglecting my relationships but pressing deeper. Maybe it looks like welcoming some new connections in too.
There is nothing magical about the start of a new year. I choose to take the opportunity to reset my focus anyway. This isn’t about a one-time decision though. Each day and each moment give me opportunities to renew my focus and take small steps forward. That is what will bring growth and health.
What is your focus for this new year? How can I help you with that?