I recently posted a review of Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies. In it, I talked about how New Year’s resolutions don’t work for me. The truth is that goals in general often don’t work for me. I tend to feel stifled by the “rules” I need to follow to meet the goal, annoyed by the rigidity of the goal, and/or frustrated with the expectation that I have to follow through, even if I find something else I’d rather focus on.
When Kandise posted about her goals and resolutions, she spoke of having a mantra or motto. And, I keep going back to her post.
Themes (or intentions or mantras or mottos) are loose enough that they could work for me. They aren’t rules, just suggestions. And, they leave a lot of room for movement within. For example, Kandise is choosing nourish as her motto. This could mean so many things! As Kandise notes, it could mean to nurture, to promote the growth of, and/or to furnish or sustain. You could use it to focus on physical health, maintaining or improving relationships, giving yourself more downtime, etc.
I almost used the same motto, but when I started thinking about some of the things that I want to do for myself and my life, I realized that nourish isn’t quite right for me this year.
To find the right theme, I thought a lot about last year and some of my successes and failures. One of the biggest changes that I’ve made in the past two years was to downsize, both in terms of square footage and stuff. It has given me so much and allowed me to set up a home that I truly love (I cannot emphasize this enough – space spaces are perfect for me!). On flip side, one of the biggest mistakes I made in the past two years was getting sucked into a book buying vortex. I allowed myself to be driven by the need for books, both through gamified reading challenges and allowing myself to watch booktube unimpeded. After some reflection, I realized that I let this “Read! Read! Read!” mantra become a problem – instead of quitting books I wasn’t enjoying or taking a break from books I wasn’t in the mood for, I skimmed or increased the playback speed just to finish it. I’ve also been focusing on shorter and shorter reads, just to increase the numbers, which is silly!
To be fair, there were a couple of books that I’m glad I finished. But, I should have allowed myself to slow down and enjoy the books I really wanted to read, instead of trying to make myself read all the books everyone else loved and all the books I thought I needed to read.
I’d already planned to slow down my reading this year. That’s why I got rid of half my unread books and cancelled most of my library holds. I want to slow down and read what I want to read when I want to read it.
While contemplating some other changes I want to make (mostly related to being more eco-friendly), it occured to me that my motto ought to be “slow.” Slow reading, but also slow living in general. I want to stop rushing through daily journaling, daily sketching, art projects, and evening chores (including making dinner). I want to slow down my consumption, both in terms of dollars spent and impact on the environment, like how much plastic I generate (condiments, toiletries, mixed greens, etc.). I want to stop feeling like I have to pick up the pace when I go for a walk because I’m fat and clearly need to exercise more. The view is beautiful and I’m far more likely to keep leaving my house if I’m allowed to enjoy it, so I need to slow down and enjoy it. (For example, I let myself take the bus to work this morning, after spending 5 frigid minutes in the -35C windchill to see the blood moon – had I been determined to make myself walk, I doubt I would have done more than glance at the moon.)
I don’t want to stop outright, I just want to slow down and take more time to contemplate what I actually need and want. I want to get to know my body again through gentle means, like yoga, and see where that takes me. I want to light candles and curl up with whatever book I’m in the mood for, even if I’ve already started a dozen that week. I want to focus less on easy foods and more on easy-enough. I want to stop feeling guilty about how far I got away from my tree-hugging days and start feeling like I can proudly call myself eco-friendly.
I don’t yet know all the specifics, but that’s the beauty of using a motto – I can build it as I go. I’ve already worked on slowing down reading, and I somehow managed to convince myself to do yoga almost everyday January and commit to trying for another month of yoga in February.
The eco-friendly part of the theme feels like a little bit of a stretch from “slow,” but it’s not really. If you look up slow fashion, slow eating, or slow living, they all tie back to being more environmentally conscious and more thoughtful about choices. There are some areas I’ll struggle with (slow fashion for plus sized people can still be a bit of a challenge, especially if you don’t enjoy regular trips to peruse second hand stores), but for 2018 I’m going to focus on easy changes and start planning for other changes. Or, in some cases, simply being more thoughtful (ex: maybe I can’t find eco friendly jeans that fit, but I can be more careful about picking jeans that are well made and I can take better care of them so that they last longer).
I’m committed to using slow as my motto, but I want to take some time to think about it and consider what sorts of actions I can consider taking to reflect the motto. Naturally, as I’m trying to live my motto, I’ll take a bit of time to do this :)
Are you using a theme/motto/mantra/whatever? I love to know what it is and why you picked it?