For the past couple of years, I’ve participated in the trend of choosing a “theme” for the upcoming year, largely as a way to focus my mental energy and to think in a very general sense about the things I want to accomplish in the next 12 months. In 2015, I thought about my theme (“soar”) throughout the year, and used it to inspire myself to keep working on the specific goals I had subsequently set for myself. In 2016, I hardly thought about my theme after deciding it, until it was time to write this post. What struck me at that point was how, despite my year going completely against my expectations and plans, my chosen theme – “accept change” – had been almost prophetically poignant.
I wondered if I had had an inkling, this time last year, that 2016 would be a year of fundamental shifts and changes (as it happened, both in the personal and the socio-political sphere). Turns out, not really. I was prescient, however, in understanding that one of the key things I would have to do this year was to learn to embrace or at least adapt to change, no matter what feelings that change evoked. Also, to learn to see the possibilities for growth in change, no matter how painful the process. 2016 was a year that asked for much forbearance from all of us, and I am not usually equipped with much of it at the best of times; this year, I had to learn to dig deep for reserves I didn’t know I had.
So, what next?
I pondered my choice for a new “theme” throughout December, and ultimately chose a simple one.
With the benefit of no crystal ball, I see it as having two meanings – twin themes for 2017, as it were. On a personal level, I see 2017 being the year when all of my work and achievements over the past decade of my professional life will (hopefully) start to coalesce into the beginnings of a new chapter. I see it as a time for me to embrace and show my full potential; after the (long) dress rehearsal, it will be time to, well, shine. Believe it or not, I don’t consider myself a “natural performer” so this whole idea is somewhat uncomfortable. However, I have worked hard to get people’s “eyes on me”, so I don’t want to squander my opportunities. To varying degrees, this is true for other areas of my life as well, so the same perspective would apply there.
On a different level, I also want to focus on being positive in 2017. In difficult situations (and there is no reason to believe 2017 will be any kinder to us than 2016, though here’s hoping), I want to resist my instinctual urge to turn inward, away from people. As hokey as it sounds, I want to shine with hope, encouragement, patience, compassion. In some ways, it’s a selfish goal; I think it’s good for the soul to channel one’s energies into that sort of expression. Again, it’s not something that comes easily to me (I’m a skeptical pessimist, after all) but I think it’s the direction of growth.
If any of you have picked a theme or inspiration for 2017, I would love to hear about it.