The other day on Facebook, my work friend Sara tagged me in this fun little activity where a bunch of words fly through a video, you take a screenshot, and the word you land on is what you will “manifest” in 2017. I’m SO not an astrology kind of girl, but I admit, I love finding the deeper meaning in fun things like that, so I took a screenshot.
According to “Astrology and Angel Mediums,” I will manifest “Recognition” in 2017.
My first thought was “how the heck do you ‘manifest recognition’?!” It sounds like some New Age mantra that you’d chant at a sweat lodge. (Which would actually probably be right up my INFJ alley… but I digress.)
It started me thinking about my 2017 Life Improvement Goal. Some people do “New Year’s Resolutions” – I find those to be flimsy and generally unfulfilled by most people (research science backs me up on this). Instead, each year, I choose an aspect of myself that I want to grow or improve, then build a series of small actions around it throughout the year. I focus on that aspect for a year, until it becomes a part of my better self. (I’ll devote another post sometime to what I accomplished in 2015 and 2016. I pursue meaning, not happiness, but for me, it’s one in the same.)
Which brings me to 2017. “The Year of Recognition.” But what did I want to recognize? To me, recognition is at the heart of the practice of mindfulness. It’s placing reality in front of your face and acknowledging that it’s there. Then, you have the awareness to take action, or not, depending on the circumstances.
To that end, I’ve narrowed it down to a few specific, measurable Life Improvement Goals of which I plan to both be mindful and take action.
(1) Recognition that I’m contributing to the enormous capacity for human waste. Did you know that the average American throws away 4.6 pounds of trash per day? That means that each of us is creating approximately 1700 pounds of trash in a year! Worse, it’s physically impacting our planet, like through the huge profusion of microplastic in the Pacific Ocean. It occurred to me that with my cup of coffee every morning, my sandwich wrapper for lunch and my plastic grocery bags, I probably consume even more than that daily. YIKES. So, one of my improvement focuses for 2017 is to use less: putting the “reduce” in reduce, reuse, recycle. I’ve started early by fixing my own coffee in the morning in a reusable cup and will be ending my plastic water bottle habit. Taking my lunch to work in reusable containers. Eating on ceramic plates, not paper. Using clothe napkins instead of paper towels.
It also means paring down on the amount of STUFF my husband and I collectively own and not collecting more to replace it. I’ve begun following a number of decluttering sites to help me in being mindful of this aspect.
(2) Recognition that my (very) sedentary life is having a bad impact on my health. For Christmas this year, my mom generously got me and my husband FitBits. (I. LOVE. DATA. It’s like this device was made for my soul.) I work in the cardiovascular health care field, so I’ve read all the studies about how sitting is the new smoking. My boss even has a standing desk! I’m a huge advocate for living heart healthy… so why am I not walking the walk? (Literally.)
It was more than mildly appalling to discover that on a regular ordinary day at my desk, I am only taking 3,000 steps a day. I spend 8 hours a day sitting at my desk. I go home and sit and watch TV or read for at least another 4-5 hours. (GULP.) The American Heart Association (with whom I work on a regular basis at my job!) recommends that we take 10,000 steps a day for optimal heart health. Going to the gym for 30 minutes a day just isn’t cutting it. So I’m starting small – 8,000 steps a day is my goal, and I’m going to creep up by 500 steps a day until I get to 10,000 a day. That includes getting 250 steps in every hour during the work day. I’ve discovered that a trip to the stairs, down the stairs, back up the stairs and back to my desk takes approximately 2 minutes and gives me ~300 steps. It has the added benefit of giving cardiovascular exercise to my wheezy-asthma lungs. I’ll work an extra 16 minutes a day to make up for that time away from my desk.
(3) Recognition that you can be sedentary in your aspirations as well. I have to take a really big, deep, “you-can-do-this” breath to put this one in writing.
You see, since I was 17 years old, I’ve been writing stories. Novels. Part of 2015’s goal was actually sitting down and finishing one. I finished it. In July 2015. Where it’s stayed for 1.5 years.
Because here’s the thing. (The thing that required me to take a deep breath before I put it in written form out in the world.) I haven’t tried to get it published. I haven’t submitted it (or any of my other writing) to an agent. I’ve sat on it, because my brain says, “Well, if you don’t submit it, no one can judge it. No one can reject it. No one can reject YOU.”
It pains me to say it aloud, but my brain’s motherboard is run by Fear.
So my final recognition of 2016 is that all you will achieve by trying nothing is nothing. In 2017, I will actively shop my writing out to agents. While I personally hold no sway over whether my writing will be picked up and considered worth pursuing for publishing, I can at least end 2017 by saying that I lived bravely.
A pretty good year, I think. With what aspirations are you beginning 2017? Tell me in the comments!