Come January each year, the air is filled with a distinct sense of renewal. The spirit of reflection and hope for improvement is palpable, and it’s one of my favorite things about winter. It’s like we’re all looking at ourselves and collectively saying, “Hey, we can do better! Let’s go for it this year!”
Resolutions are hard for me to keep and don’t always appeal to me for that very reason. Yet, in the spirit of the “new year, new me” mantra, I’ve been seeking a way to take part in the season of self-improvement in a way that works for me. In talking about it with a few of my friends, several of them shared the idea of doing a “word-of-the-year,” which is something that they’ve found helpful. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of choosing a word to focus my efforts throughout the year. In some ways, it seems less overwhelming to think of a single word rather than a list of things I want to work on.
When I called Clare last week, we caught up and I shared with her my plans of picking my 2017 word and we each exchanged specific areas in which we wanted to grow. In doing so, we realized that although we had some very different goals in mind, together, they could all be summed up in a single word:
Yes, discipline-that’s our word for this next year of our lives. It’s not glamorous by any means, but I think that’s why we were both drawn to it. It captures what it will take to bridge the gap between where we’re at and where we want to be with various aspects of our lives.
For me, discipline is something I want to work on in several areas of my life, but most specifically with regard to my school work and eating/cooking.
Anyone that knows my school habits knows that I am a diehard procrastinator. It’s in my blood. Which is something I’m going to be forced to work through. This next year or so will require more focus and perseverance than ever before as I’m preparing for my dissertation and the vast majority my work is self-paced. I am finally at a place where I know I am capable of doing the work, it’s now just a matter of discipline. In many ways, the only thing standing in my way is myself. Easier said than done. Making progress will require me to actively manage my time for the sake of my long-term goals and slowly chip away at this monstrous project. I need to be much more disciplined about actually staying focused after the school day ends rather than succumbing to the inevitable tv/internet/phone mindless time-waste that seems to be happening all too often lately.
In terms of meals, I’ve slipped into a bad habit this past semester of eating out every day or every other day and simply not making time for cooking my meals or packing a lunch. The times I would grocery shop, I wouldn’t plan well enough and food would end up going bad. As simple as it seems, I want to be more disciplined about making time for cooking my own meals, planning out my meals so I don’t waste food/money, and just experimenting with different food I cook-I just invested in a zoodler, so send your recipes my way!
In general though, I’m excited to embrace a spirit of discipline in my life and find little ways to practice it in small choices throughout the day- like getting out of bed before the 3rd snooze alarm, reading the book on my nightstand I really want to read before bed rather than scrolling through Instagram again, and doing a better job of keeping my electronic files organized.
I have never before had resolutions or goals that I specifically chose in January. Instead, I continually set goals throughout the year, have bucket lists going, tweaking short term and long term ambitions that I have for myself. This year for whatever reason the New Year seemed so fresh and hopeful that I couldn’t help but review my plans. Many of the things I want for myself require self-discipline. There are many daily habits I want to form that require work. Small, consistent work, but work nonetheless. Some silly- washing my face every day (ugh) some more meaningful- praying consistently.
I was SOO excited when I talked to Erika and we were on the same page about this. Since that conversation on the phone we have found so many instances of people longing for discipline in their lives even though it is such an unglamorous virtue. It seems at times that our culture downplays the benefits of discipline in daily life. It’s easy to see the benefits in an athlete’s life but it is often portrayed as restricting your freedoms otherwise. The truth is though, it requires discipline to accomplish the things we really want to, both day-to-day and long-term.
Do you find that a lot of your time is wasted at home? I do. Some nights I couldn’t even tell you what I did after work. I’d like to fill my time with more meaningful things- reading, blogging, art, and volunteering! Having discipline actually grows your ability to act on these passions.
To fit into the theme of discipline I have decided to challenge myself to focus on a different habit or skill each month. January is traditionally a month of reviewing your fitness habits and I decided to follow and challenge myself to workout each day. Erika, our friend Catherine, and I are all working through an app challenge that increases the amount of ab related exercises each day. We all love that its a group effort and can hold one another accountable. I also choose to do a spending freeze in January. This way I can pinpoint bad spending habits and go into the year with better discipline in my spending.
Hopefully, by working on the same thing each day I will grow the self-discipline needed to free up time and energy. The Year of Discipline! Bring it on.
Even though it will seem daunting at times, we’re so excited about the hard-work of practicing discipline, because it means we’re working towards things we really care about. We’ll be sure to check back in at some point to let you know where we’re at!
Have you used a word of the year before? How did it work for you? We’d love to hear from you!
Hope your 2017 is off to a great start!