Monday, January 05, 2009

Resolution Word for 2009

Last year I tried Christine Kane's suggestion to choose a word rather than a list of resolutions to guide me through the year. In a nutshell, the theory is that resolutions only address the "do" level of your life in order to "have" certain things that you hope will lead to "being" a certain way. However, a more successful sequence is to start at the "be" level after which the "do" and "have" follow more easily. For me, it was freedom that I craved, so for years my resolutions were a list of things I wanted to get done. Oh, if only I didn't have all this stuff stacked up waiting for me, I'd be free from responsibility, free to go enjoy myself. Until I worked my way through the list, any freedom I did feel felt guilty. I didn't really understand that it was freedom I was working towards, just saw a long laundry list of things I should do that wasn't getting done.

Turning it on it's head, reminding myself that it was freedom I craved, I soon realized that procrastination was not a form of freedom, but that attending to anything that was in front of me needing attention was. It struck me as a bit of reverse psychology, and it worked - a wonderful motivator that allowed me to taste a little freedom each day without guilt but as a reward. When I remembered to use it, my resolution word of 2008, "freedom", worked like a charm.

I still have lots of stuff on my "to do" lists, did not get quite as unburdened on any level as I thought I would, so want to maintain "freedom" as a resolution word in 2009. But I need to add another resolution word to go with it, to help it work even better. Looking back at the year, I am aware of how much of my life is lived in fear. and its companion, dread. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of being late for an appointment. Fear of disappointing someone. Fear of getting in over my head. Fear of becoming disabled. Sometimes "fear" may be too strong a term for the feeling of unease, but at my very core, I am and always have been motivated by fear. Fear is even a subtle part of our daily conversations. "I'm afraid so and so's not in right now." "I'm afraid we're out of that product at the moment." "I'm afraid I don't know." We really aren't afraid, it's just become an automatic response, like when someone asks how you are, and you say, "Fine" without thinking. Fear is ingrained in us.

But fear is debilitating. Some fear is warranted, but I'm famous for getting myself all wound up over nothing, letting the fear and agitation paralyze me, wishing that if I just ignore whatever, it will go away or resolve itself on its own. I know better, of course; rarely are we so lucky that inaction, waiting long enough, allows a situation to resolve without making a choice, taking action. So how to combat this fear that works against my better judgment and keeps me from moving forward and attaining freedom? What one word could I invoke to banish my fear?

I thought looking at antonyms of fear might give me my answer. But mostly those are words like courage, and it's not courage I lack or am looking for. I have plenty of courage, once I give myself a good shake. No, I am looking for something to break the cycle of fear as the constant backdrop to my life so action and when necessary, courage can take over. This definition of fear gave me a clue; "Great agitation and anxiety caused by the expectation of danger; apprehension; panic; trepidation." Yup, me in a nutshell, all the sensations I let overwhelm me from time to time. The opposite of them, of agitation and anxiety and panic, I decided is "calm". If I can just keep an inner calm, then I see my day's activities flowing seamlessly, even when there are bumps in the road.

So I tried it out this weekend, checked to see if I could maintain inner calm even in the face of adversity and how did it change my thoughts and actions when I could. I liked what I saw, how it felt. I sensed freedom just around the corner.

So "calm" it is for 2009. Coupled with last year's "freedom", I think I have a winning combination to improve all facets of my life, including (maybe especially) what goes on in the studio.


Nora and James McDowell said...

And I, who have generally resolved not to resolve, thought for this year I'd "drink more tea."
I know it sounds silly but it is healthy and I like tea, I'm just usually too lazy and end up drinking hot tap water - healthy tap water from our own very hard, but unsoftened well, but tea would be nicer and we need to be nice to ourselves.
Peace sounds good too.

Felicity Grace said...

Sheila, I want to thank you for this wonderful post! Yes, attending to things it the key to freedom! I read it yesterday morning and a lightbulb went on! So I got on with some things I've been putting off - housework! - and had a good think about how I can prioritise and maybe get some sort of schedule together that takes into account the way I procrastinate and work around it.
Procrastination is like a disease, sometimes it's not that bad and other times it's crippling. So often we joke about it but it stops us living our lives to our full potential.

Thanks so much for sharing your insight!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Nora, resolving to drink more tea does NOT sound silly. I continually see articles lauding the benefits of tea and pointing to health problems the Japanese do not have that they think can be linked to their tea drinking. Do you have a kind you like? I find decaffeinated green tea a great choice. When I need a boost, I like green Jasmine or China Black.

I ran across "peace" after I'd decided on "calm" and wondered if that was a better choice. But no - while they are very similar, peace connotes to me a state of mind while I am using calm almost like a command, as in "calm down!" And by calming myself, I discover peace.

Felicity, I'm pleased that this post has gotten you thinking in a positive direction. I can see that we will be fighting for the title of Queen of Procrastination. LOL I agree with all you've said about it. Do you follow Margaret Cooter's blog? She had an excellent post about procrastination you might find helpful.

RHONDA said...

That's a thought provoking post, Sheila. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and making me stop and consider just what word I could adopt. I'll be thinking about it.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks, Rhonda. I'd be interested in what you settle on and how you arrive at your choice.