As one year ends and the next begins, newspapers and social media will be flooded with articles about how to make and keep New Year’s resolutions. I don’t do resolutions, but since moving to the UK two years ago, I have starting doing themes.
In 2016 the theme was ‘Settling In’. I gave myself permission to spend the year getting settled in a new country, a new job, a new house, and a new community. In 2017 the theme was ‘Kicking Arse’. I gave myself permission to spend the year working around the clock to expand my international collaborations, apply for major research funding, and develop and deliver new modules for my students.
Ever the over-achiever, however, I’ve been a little too good at working to a theme. In 2016 that wasn’t a problem. Settling in is a good thing. I fully embraced British life and now I have a wonderful community of friends and colleagues in my adopted home. In 2017, however, it was slightly less functional. Although I totally kicked arse, it came at the cost of my health. In order to achieve my professional goals, I sacrificed my nights, my weekends, my holidays, my swimming, and my yoga. And now I’m knackered. As someone with an autoimmune disease, I really can’t afford to sacrifice rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. My professional goals are important, but the work is not sustainable if my body can’t keep up.
So my theme for 2018 is ‘Find the Stillness’. I am going to give myself permission to spend the year being content with wherever I’m at. This will be a year of making peace with body’s limitations and rejoicing in its strengths. It will be a year of striving to achieve my professional goals and accepting that I will never achieve them as soon as I’d like or exactly how I’d planned. It will be a year of finding the calm in the storm through swimming, yoga, reading, knitting, and meditation. And most importantly, it will be a year of surrounding myself with people who see the value in stillness. Because stillness is not stagnation. Rather, it is the start of all great things. And as Pico Iyer says, “In an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention. In an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.”
What’s your theme for 2018?