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As the last day of 2016 rolls around, it is time to focus on the future. This year was a crazy one, as I outlined yesterday – almost 200,000 miles of air travel, over a month at sea, and high utilization at work make me surprised I accomplished as much as I did on a personal front. I would have expected to have done much less.
New Year’s resolutions are something that I don’t believe in. I think when you need to make a change in your life, its best to start as soon as possible and not use an arbitrary calendar date as your guide. But I do like setting an intention for my year which is a habit I picked up when I started practicing yoga years ago.
An intention is simply a focus – for me, it’s a single word – that I can come back to when I need to center. This year, my word was “yes” and my focus was on opening my mind to new possibilities and taking chances. The year before that was “change” and man, did I make some big ones! I’ve used other words in the past like “authentic”, “brave”, “joy”, “Namaste”, and “creative” to help me work through my personal goals for the year.
My word usually comes to me in the last weeks of the year as I reflect on where I am and where I’m going. And once it comes, I can’t shake it. It is less arbitrary and more intrinsic. As such, I was a bit surprised when this year’s word started echoing in my head.
Less seems like an odd word for a high driver, an adrenaline junkie, a collector of things (experiences, objects, accomplishments, people). It seems to imply taking my foot off the gas and coasting. The thought of less could conjure up the image of discarding things or disconnecting.
But that’s not where I am.
For me, “less” is a natural follow up to “yes”. In learning to embrace the word “yes”, I first had to learn to say “no”.
Saying no, for me, was about renegotiating boundaries and I had scarily lost many of mine.
But saying yes was about letting go of some of my control.
If you re-read those last two sentences, they may seem at complete odds with one another but they are not. When you don’t have boundaries, you fiercely hold onto control, so saying no becomes a mechanism to avoid a spiral. After you establish boundaries, it is safer to say yes – to let go and let God, so to speak.
With my travel (since this is, above all else, a travel blog), less means giving up some of my obsession with points/miles and going agnostic if it is in my personal best interests. While I’m not stepping off the ride, I am being more thoughtful about my well-being which means sometimes flying different carriers or staying in independent hotels if it is in my best interest. And saying yes means starting to plan a bit further out some of what I want to do and not being so commitment phobic about committing to plans months in advance.
For me, this is what less is about:
- More thoughtful purchasing habits.
- Being intentional about what I say yes to.
- Not overpacking but taking what I really need.
- Striving for quality over quantity in my interactions.
- Being deliberate with my schedule including carving out time to write.
- Continuing to set boundaries with others.
- Clearing some of the clutter so that I have fewer options and can make better decisions.
- Truly loving the things I own. (Yes, I’ve been reading Marie Kondo. No, I’m not going to walk around and talk to things in my house.)
- Spending more time in my kitchen and less time ordering takeout.
- Splurging for the one amazing glass of wine rather than drinking several glasses of the free stuff.
- Paying for the first class seat when I want it rather than dealing with the hassle of the upgrade.
- Checking a bag when I don’t want to mess with fighting for overhead space.
- Taking an Uber to the airport so I can have the extra hour of time each way to catch up on emails and calls so I can gain back productivity at home.
Over the next 365 days, I will focus on less every day and consider carefully how I am creating less stress and less unhealthy behavior. The focus on less will bring abundance in other areas.
Less will help me have more “yes” – and I can’t think of a better segue to 2017.