I love the start of a new year, with its fresh beginnings and limitless opportunities. There’s nothing intrinsically special about January 1st, but a simple flip of a page on the calendar can be a powerful catalyst for implementing healthy habits, addressing old hangups, and tackling new projects.
I’ve written in the past of my tumultuous relationship with New Year’s resolutions. As a self-improvement enthusiast, I’m drawn to their potential for personal transformation. But I tend to be unreasonably aspirational in setting my own New Year’s goals—not a bad thing, necessarily, although I don’t particularly care for the feelings of self-defeat that arise in me when I realize that I’ve fallen short of yet another personal goal. . . but that’s another story for another blog post.
Last year I set several resolutions for 2015. I achieved quite a few of them, but several fell by the wayside, either because they no longer seemed important or because I lacked the time and energy to follow through. Midway through the year I realized that shorter, more actionable goals are a better fit for me, and since then I’ve been using my journal to record and hold myself accountable to weekly and monthly goals. I plan to keep up this routine in 2016, and these smaller goals are taking the place of sweeping, year-long resolutions.
In addition to setting traditional goals last year, I also tried something new by selecting a Word of the Year that I hoped would direct my actions and frame my perspective in 2015. I selected the word open as a reminder to be more flexible and receptive to new experiences in the coming year, and these past twelve months certainly provided me with endless opportunities to exercise this new mindset. Though I was hardly the epitome of flexibility, I found that focusing on my word of the year did increase my receptivity to experiences outside of my comfort zone. Mission (at least partially) accomplished.
In the wake of 2015’s word-of-the-year success, I’ve decided to select a word for this coming year as well. I’m declaring 2016 as my year of Integrity. While this word is fairly common in our society’s general vocabulary, it can be a difficult concept to define. My first exposure to this word took place in my elementary years when I heard it used in a church sermon. In asking my dad what it meant, he told me that integrity was “when you do what you say you are going to do.” Though I’ve since learned of its other definitions and uses, I’m drawn to his simple explanation of integrity as a faithful adherence to our word and our principles.
In selecting integrity as my word for the year, the phrase “values-based intentionality” has been at the forefront of my mind. I first heard about Values-Based Intentions from Jess Lively, who writes that “once we have our intentions set, we simply embody our Values in the present moment, given our current circumstances. By [doing this] we are able to experience the presence, peace, and joy we seek.”
After spending some time pondering my personal value system, I’ve settled on eight key principles that I would like to embody this year. There’s quite a bit of overlap in these values, but I’ve listed them separately in order to help me focus on different aspects of each principle.
- Faith: Growing in my personal relationship with God, living in accordance with His will for me, supporting Luke in his own faith journey, and nurturing Charlie’s blossoming faith.
- Relationships: Intentionally investing in current relationships with family and friends, and fostering authentic relationships with new friends.
- Health: Pursuing vibrant health within the four pillars of wellness (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual).
- Mindfulness: Being mentally and emotionally present in all areas of my life.
- Memories: Creating and preserving (through pictures and journals) meaningful memories for myself and our family.
- Creativity: Expressing myself creatively (primarily through blogging).
- Education: Seeking out opportunities to expand my mind, explore new ideas, and learn new skills.
- Home: Creating and maintaining a clean, mostly-minimal, and comfortable home environment.
**There will inevitably be times when these values come in conflict with one another; hence their numerical order. My faith should always come first, relationships trump the pursuit of health, etc.**
In the coming year, the word integrity will serve as my reminder to live in accordance with these personal values. Too often I find myself squandering time and mental energy on things outside my value system. But in 2016—and hopefully beyond—I want to shed my associations to superfluous time-wasters and less-than-optimal mind-occupiers in order to live a life that unequivocally represents the principles I’ve deemed truly important.
I recognize that as a flawed individual, it’s impossible for me to live 100% within my value system at all times, but my prayer is that this Year of Integrity will be more explicitly driven by my values as I focus on what matters most. Here’s to an incredible year of values-based intentionality!