Last year, I chose a theme for my year instead of making New Years resolutions. Those specific resolutions we all make so often fall by the wayside over the first few weeks of the year because other things become more important, or because those resolutions don’t inspire us, or because they are about giving something up and feel like a chore. I loved the way a theme gave me a vision for the year while allowing the space to respond to events as they unfolded. So this year I did it again.
My theme for 2016 was adventure. When I chose it, I didn’t have anything particular in mind, but it was the word I kept coming back to. You could say it chose me. When I tell people they seem surprised, asking ‘so what adventures have you been on’? But I never envisaged the word being restricted to physical adventures – I think people conjure up climbing mountains or jumping on a plane to a new destination. There was a little bit of that, but mainly I knew I needed an adventurous state of mind this year. Here are some of the ways adventure shaped my year and the decisions I made.
Adventure in my yoga journey
2016 was the year of getting qualified as a yoga teacher. That makes it sound straightforward. But it involved, quite literally, a lot of sweat, tears, study, self-discovery, and ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway’, both emotionally and physically. Holding this theme of adventure in my mind helped me approach these experiences with an open mind and a sense of curiosity rather than overwhelm.
I started teaching workplace classes in the spring, I covered classes for my regular teacher in the summer and I set up my own class this autumn. All these steps felt vulnerable and daunting, but stepping forward with a sense of adventure was so helpful and I now love teaching each and every class.
Adventure in my work
At the beginning of the year I was offered two different roles at work (not a bad situation to be in, I know). One was a role I felt comfortable with as I had been stepping up into it for some time, while the other involved a much steeper learning curve but was more in line with what I was aiming for in the long term. It was a no-brainer to take the second option of course, but the word ‘adventure’ made the decision so much clearer and also helped me get to grips with the new area of work.
And to finish the year, I am preparing to move to a four-day working week in my ongoing quest for a balanced life. ‘What’s adventurous about a four-day week?’, I hear you ask! Well, the world tells me I should be striving ever upwards at this stage in my career and it’s unusual for people to value time more highly than money. When you’re going against the grain it’s easy to doubt yourself, so this adventurous state of mind kept me moving forward and helped me ignore those sabotaging thoughts.
Adventure in my personal life
My husband and I started the year by creating a vision board for our future, cutting and pasting pictures and words from old magazines. It was a fun way of working things out together around our mutual priorities – I highly recommend it! And as a result, as the year progressed, we ended up having more adventurous ideas and conversations about what we could do over the coming years.
I also had some wonderful adventures in the great outdoors with people I love. My mum and I travelled to a Greek island for a week of sunshine, yoga and quality time. My husband and I hiked up Mount Snowdon and went camping in a Suffolk woodland, enjoying the opportunity to switch off from our digital lives. And this autumn, we enjoyed a long-awaited trip around some of the USA National Parks where the first breathtaking sight of the mountains brought tears to my eyes. I’m so glad we prioritised these wonderful adventures among beauty and nature.
There is something about an adventurous state of mind that creates an openness, a willingness to wait and see how things unfold, and motivation to act in the face of uncertainty. 2016 has thrown a lot of uncertainty our way all over the world and many of us will move into 2017 with a sense of concern for what lies ahead. This year has taught me a little about how to keep moving nonetheless. And how each of us can make choices to affect the world positively even while difficult world events loom large.
No matter what awaits you in 2017, I invite you to choose a word or theme to be your personal vision for the year. Don’t think too hard about it – see what words pop into your mind and pick one that feels right. You don’t need to be able to explain it – it will explain itself to you as the year unfolds. I’ll be choosing mine on New Year’s Day and right now I honestly don’t know what it will be.
If you need a little more inspiration, you can also read about my theme for 2015 here – it’s still my most-read post of the year! In response to that post many of you shared with me that you had chosen a theme for your 2016. I’d love to hear how that unfolded for you, and what themes you all have in mind for the year ahead.
Wishing you all a happy and restful Christmas, and a new year filled with love and fulfilment, whatever theme you choose.