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A Year Ends, A Year Begins

In the transition from year to year, I haven’t always taken advantage of the opportunity to process the past and vision the future. New Year’s Resolutions didn’t resonate strongly with me. I’m pretty sure I’ve attempted and failed at them a few times. Maybe I did them wrong, because I can’t quite remember, which means they must not have been very good resolutions.

If I’m honest, a big part of the reason I eschewed New Year’s Resolutions or dreaming big for the new year was my history of burdening myself with a perspective that was more pessimistic than optimistic. More passive than action-oriented.

About three years ago, I started journaling consistently – a practice in which I’ve found tremendous benefit. It took me stopping and starting and starting for years until I stumbled upon a method that helped me regularly put pen to paper.

The method was simple.

At the close of each day, write about a win, an opportunity for improvement and a learn. That practice has iterated over time to include a gratitude component and cycling in a fifth category that seems pertinent. I’ll also conduct periodic retrospectives, looking for patterns or “bugs” in my own mental software à la Jim Collins.

It’s not a perfect practice. There have been times where what I needed was actually free-form stream of consciousness, or at times, I’ve even elected to take a break from journaling when it didn’t feel like a resonant practice. Yet I’ve always come back to it.

Getting thoughts out of my head and onto a page has a real benefit. By putting pen to paper and mind-dumping, I am able to perceive with my own gross senses that I am not my thoughts.

Fueled by the habitual reflectiveness of daily journaling, New Year’s 2018 found me adopting a practice that I wanted to share with you: choosing a word as a theme for the year – a metaphorical north star off which to steer.

It’s almost like a new year’s resolution. Although I admit that setting a goal in a resolution is probably a bit more measurable and tangible, for me, I find an annual word to be more transformational. It just feels like it takes the entire year to come to fruition. And it’s likely fraught with failures and successes, honoring it and not.

A single word cuts to the core of what I want to change and leaves the details to the unfolding of life. Almost as if it were a binary principle to uphold.

Does [insert action here] honor the word? Yes / No. Clear answer on what to do.

For context, I’ll briefly share the words I’ve chosen thus far:

  • 2018: Choice – A reminder of the truth that we are always making choices. Although we may not be 100% in control of thoughts that arise in our mind, we always have the choice around which ones to feed with energy. We always get to choose how we react to and do in response to a situation.

“You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill I will choose a path that's clear, I will choose Freewill” – Freewill by Rush
  • 2019: Inquire – In 2018, I realized I needed to question my assumptions more rigorously. To ask more questions and say less. To sharpen my awareness around when I don’t have the whole picture.

  • 2020: Vision – Defined as more than just ordinary sight, I folded in foresight, insight and intuition into the definition of vision. While the world went sideways, leaning on this simple word led me into the one of the most transformational years of my life.

  • 2020: Satya – A sanskrit word, and principle in the ethical principles of yoga, satya can be roughly translated at its most simply as truthfulness. Concepts in yoga, however, are commonly multifaceted and philosophically dense beyond a single English word’s translation. Satya doesn’t simply mean to not lie. It encompasses transparency, and speaking your truth, yet not doing so in a way that causes violence to others. To me, it also means setting appropriate boundaries, giving candid feedback and expressing my needs.

Tomorrow will find me reading through my 2020 journal entries. Scanning for patterns of behavior. Identifying failures, celebrating successes. Expressing gratitude for another year of lessons. Looking back briefly, to vision forward strongly.

No matter your practice for the turn of the new year, whether the pomp and circumstance around a simple turning of a calendar page seems cheesy, inspiring or otherwise… Maybe a resolution will work. Or just a word. Or perhaps the simple question “What do I want to do with 2021?” will suffice.

Written By FitPro, Wei-Ming Lam,

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