Still, it does make sense to use this time to reflect on the past year and maybe try to reset my course a bit, decide which of my goals are still relevant to me, what I want to continue with and what I want to let go of, as well as whether anything new has come up or changed significantly since I last did this work.
The big thing for the immediate term is the explosion of covid in the community and managing my reaction to that, which has been fear, anxiety and an overwhelming desire to stay safe. It’s testing my capacity to focus on things I can control and to let go of the things I can’t.
This time last year, I went through the exercises in Susannah Conway’s Unravel Your Year workbook but then I completely forgot about it (and don’t even know where I put the workbook), so that was a massive fail. It has some great stuff in it but I think you have to take what you come up with and use it to plan your year and actually do the things you say you want to do, not just do the exercises and forget about them. So this time as I was going through this work, I was making a list of themes, priorities and actions to build into my 22 for 2022 list and other areas where I want to make changes.
At the same time I was thinking about what my word for 2022 might be. In 2021, I chose the word “listen”, as I felt that listening to myself and responding to what I need would be the most important thing I could do. I’m not sure I did as good of a job as I might have wanted to. I’ve spent a lifetime ignoring my inner voice to the point where I don’t really know what it sounds like or when it’s speaking to me. I must have made some progress though, because there were a couple of occasions where I felt a really strong message from myself that made me stop and take notice. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.
So too when I woke up at 4.16 am on Monday, after having been working through Susannah’s “word” exercises, to the word “settle” clearly fixed in my head. That came directly from the part of me I find difficult to hear, and it said that there isn’t going to be a single word for 2022, so I can stop looking for that.
Inner me told me that because this year is going to be full of uncertainty and the goal posts are going to keep changing, one word isn’t going to see me through the year. Neither, I imagine is one plan, or even one 22 for 2022 list.
“Settle” tells me not to get too carried away with planning my year at the start of the year or to force myself to have gotten my whole year sorted by the first week of January so that I can get on with things. It tells me to take my time and gradually “settle” into a picture of what I want my year to look like over the next three or four weeks.
It tells me not to set too much in concrete early on because so much will change during the year that much of the work I do in planning will get overtaken by other events. I feel like the difference between the end of this year and now is gong to be much greater than the difference between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021. Things might even have shifted dramatically by the end of the month.
“Settle” doesn’t mean to settle for second best or settle for being less or doing less. It means to settle into the uncertainty, and to not think too far ahead because so much might change.
But at the same time, there are still plans I can make and steps I can take to move towards achieving those plans no matter what is happening in the world. I can’t put my entire life on hold because of uncertainty. Things might not look the same as they once did, but I can still live my life within the constraints that are now on me, whether internally or externally imposed.
So what I think inner me was telling me when it sent me the word “settle” was that I need to find a spot somewhere in between living for the day and setting big goals for the year and to get comfortable being there for now.
Settle is my word for January 2022.
This means checking in with my major goals and projects and making sure they’re still relevant and what I want. It means building my 22 for 2022 list, putting some things on there that will help me work towards those goals. But it doesn’t mean doing this by 1 January and starting work straight away. It means taking time over the next few weeks to decide what the purpose of this list is and, therefore, what needs to go on it. Settling in to the year, not unpacking everything at once and ending up having put stuff in the wrong place and needing to go back and reorganise it.
As well as 22 for 2022, I want to look at my habits across the different areas of my life, figure out what’s working, what I need to change and start to put a small number of new habits that will best serve me into place. I referred to Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft’s discussion of The Vital Nine last year and I considered this approach but I also know their categories don’t quite fit with how I like to organise things, so I’m not doing that. I want to fit things into how I already work, not completely change my system to fit someone else’s idea.
So now I have the start of plan.
What do I want to do next week?
Identify my focus areas for the year
Decide which ones (not more than three) are the top priority for me to base my 22 for 2022 list on and blog about
Start to work on the 22 for 2022 list
What I’m reading this week
The Founding of Hobart 1803-1804 by Frank Bolt
A Bookshop Christmas by Rachel Burton
Deep Work by Cal Newport
Days I went for a walk in the morning (Goal = 7): 6 (I was sick on Thursday)
Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 5
Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 5): 6
Days I shut my computer down before 9.30 (Goal = 6): 7 (I’m posting this before bedtime on Sunday. I’m trusting myself to do this . . . )