Setting annual mantras
Every year around this time, I think it’s important to take a beat and reflect back on all of the areas of my life. At work, we have “offsites,” rife with annual planning and progress checks on our prior year’s goals. With family, I set an internal intention going into the holiday season with what I hope to gain from the time we spend together. In my relationship, my husband and I set aside at least an evening to look back on our year and call out the most memorable moments, then set a few “relationship goals” for the year ahead.
Finally, as I shared last year, with each new year, I adopt a “mantra” to help carry me through decisions and crossroads in the year ahead. My mantras aren’t resolutions. They also aren’t intentions. They are more like slogans or reminders to help me get from one place to the next by the end of the year.
My mantra for 2019 was: “Settle into your rhythm.” With this, I hoped to find a more balanced way to integrate all of the aspects of my self into my day-to-day. I noticed that I had behaviors or habits that sapped my energy that I needed to stop. And I wanted to lean into other tendencies that help me derive the most satisfaction. Today, I’ll share with you my reflection on how this went, and what I’ve set as my mantra for the year ahead.
How last year went
Ironically, despite my mantra, 2019 proved to be one of my choppiest years on record. I spent the first six months working myself into a frenzy that probably wasn’t warranted. I blogged, almost daily, for at least four months of those six. It felt like a great energy. I had buzz and adrenaline. But it wasn’t sustainable.
As a result, I spent the summer making up for all of the energy I took away, cramming together all of my “catch up” health, wellness, and relationship work into one three-month period. This involved getting a medical procedure that I’d been putting off, spending a week with my family, and then taking a vacation with my husband to a country we’d never visited before. Along the way, my writing progress dwindled, but my reading time was off the charts. I read 13 books between June and August. And just as the summer wound down into fall, I was hit with yet another drastic change of pace: I found out that I was pregnant.
As it turns out, this has a tendency to change a few things. I spent the first four months of my pregnancy in a state of such utter fatigue that I could barely get through a day without taking a nap. I spent weekends catching up on sleep, in two and three hour increments at a time, feeling as far away from my normal self as ever. I wondered, is this the new version of what my rhythm looks like? Is this what I’ve been waiting for all year?
Thankfully, by late October, I started to feel like myself again, and I set to work on three projects simultaneously: Preparing for a new baby, working on weekly personal writing, and starting to lay the groundwork for a podcast I’m launching this spring. I learned that a funny thing happens when you have a hard deadline in your life: You can get yourself motivated to get a lot done at once. And that’s about where things stand today.
So, did I use 2019 to settle into a rhythm? Eh. Debatable. If anything, I used the year to observe a lot of different rhythms, and I like to think I’ve taken away things I’ve liked and things I haven’t liked about each. Maybe for now, being adaptive is more important than being consistent.
My 2020 mantra
But of course, all of this leads to 2020, where I’ve set my annual mantra as: “Lead with compassion.”
With a baby on the way, my rhythm is about to be interrupted again, in an even more serious way. I imagine there are parts of this that will not be fun. Things that will totally suck, if I’m being honest. And of course, things that I wish could or should or ought to be a little bit different. This, however, is where compassion will be crucial — both for myself, and for those around me. You’re never good at anything the first time you try, and from everything I’ve heard, parenting is no exception. Cutting myself a break by starting off with a little bit of tenderness might be the kindest thing I can do for myself this year.
That explains the compassion part. As for the “lead,” I see this mantra being applied in two ways:
- To remind myself to start from a place of compassion
- To strive to be the kind of leader, in a personal and professional context, who has compassion for others.
In this way, my mantra is quite versatile. I hope it will help me make business decisions, as well as home decisions, through a slightly different lens.
So, that’s my mantra for 2020. While I haven’t been writing as much publicly recently, I’ll try to pop in a bit more throughout the year. But one thing that I really love about publishing my thoughts on this post in general is that I feel more accountable to stick to my annual mantra. Thanks for helping me do just that.
Also published on Medium.