I can be somewhat of an anomaly. I’m that compulsively organized person who can’t conquer anything without a firm plan in place and who always feels the overwhelming urge to have everything under control. (Just ask my husband about the labeled bins in our refrigerator.)
But, on the flipside of that coin, I’ve actually never made a new year’s resolution. You’d think as someone who enjoys meticulously planning every aspect of her life, I’d make the time to sit down at the end of every year to establish a few long-term goals and ambitions.
Instead, I have the tendency to sort of aimlessly stumble into the new year with the same attitude I had throughout the last one—I take things day by day, just doing my best to ensure my to-do list doesn’t completely suffocate me.
However, I recently read an article by Jason Zook that inspired me to be a little more intentional with my time, energy, and focus. Throughout his article, he discusses the concept of “framing your year.”
The concept is really quite simple. Think of it as assigning an overarching theme for your entire year—such as balance, focus, or adventure. Then, when projects, opportunities, and decisions come up, you use your word as a guide for determining your best course of action.
Zook’s choice for 2015 was “experimentation”—he wanted to challenge himself to reach outside of his comfort zone and try new things. With every opportunity that came across his lap, he weighed it using his frame. Was this something that was new, exciting, and challenging to him? Or, was it just more of the same?
As he explains, “This idea of framing a year does not have to be looked at under a microscope. It doesn’t need detailed metrics or over-analyzation. Instead, it’s a big wide lens with which you can zoom in and out. Having a frame for the year is a nice crutch to lean on when you might need to nudge yourself in one direction or another.”
As someone who doesn’t have much experience in the arena of setting larger goals, I can already see how this concept would be incredibly helpful. We all get busy. And, it’s easy to become so focused on putting out those pesky fires and completing your daily tasks, you neglect to even consider how they fit into the bigger picture.
Are these activities contributing to something larger and pushing you toward your overall goal? Or, are they essentially time-wasters? Determining whether or not they fit within your frame is a simple and relatively quick way to identify the answers to those questions.
So, needless to say, this led me to think about using this approach myself. What word could I choose that actually encapsulates what’s most important to me throughout the next several months?
I churned on it for quite some time, and came up with plenty of options. Some were serious contenders, including “mindfulness” and “balance.” (And, then there were some that were not so serious contenders—like “ice cream” and “naps.”
But, ultimately, I settled on “spontaneity.” Anybody who knows me well is already aware that this is sure to force me to make some serious changes throughout the year. Like I mentioned above, I’ve never been a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of girl. I like structure, I like details, and I like a firm plan.
However, sometimes I think that really limits me. I get so stuck in my routines, I become completely unwilling to ever stray from them.
This year? I want to try something new—even if I have no idea what I’m doing. I want to do things because I enjoy them—not because it’s what I always do at a certain time on a certain day. And, ultimately, I want to bring a little more fun and joy into my life, work, and relationships.
So, spontaneity it is—my frame for 2016. I’m really excited to give this strategy a try and see how this theme impacts my decisions and outlook throughout the year. I don’t think it’ll always be easy for me, but I definitely think it’ll be worth it.
But, hey, I don’t want to be in this all by myself. So, I challenge you to do this along with me! What word do you choose? Let me know on Twitter!
Photo of hiker courtesy of Shutterstock.
TopicsYou've Got This , Tools & Skills , Achieving Goals , New Year's , Resolutions , Goals , Inspiration , Decision Making , Syndication , Trending Topics , Career Goals , Productivity
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development, and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she's also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor all over the web. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her rescued terrier mutt or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author