New beginnings are often marked with events that involve gatherings. Sometimes they’re welcoming ones we cherish like births, weddings, and graduations. Other times they’re difficult unwanted times like: job losses, broken relationships, or deaths.
A new year is often a popular time when we celebrate new beginnings. We close the doors to the past year and move forward with a fresh perspective into the next one. We use resolutions, goal setting, or focus words to help us get from getting distracted as we look forward into a new year.
What exactly is our motivation for doing this year after year?
We all seem to have different goals. What is it that we are striving toward? To be a better person, become more organized, to drop bad habits, be more successful?
I chose the one-word route because I can’t, for the life of me, keep a resolution. Instead, I have been selecting a theme word of the year (WOTY) for over a decade. This year my word is RESTORATION.
My goal is to cultivate awareness of the times I feel like I need some kind of restoration and then decide in those moments what to do. I also look for the times I feel restored and celebrate those.
This kind of method works for me because it allows me to authentically be me – despite any of human limitations that may arise. When you are a cancer survivor and have an autoimmune disease, it seems that we can easily move into a time of experiencing limitations. Consequently, I’m learning to live with myself and the “what is” of my life and extend compassion, kindness, and patience to myself to welcome and accept the new me as I am – limitations and all.
A Little on my Wordfor2024
RESTORATION is a noun – something we get to experience. Part of that word includes the word “RESTORE” which is a verb – a doing word.
Not only do I want to focus on restoration this year, but I also want to actively participate in the process by doing my part in restoring what has been lost due to crazy busy schedules over the last few years.
Away from the busyness.
Away from the deadlines, lists, and tyranny of the urgent.
Away from the noise, cement, and hubbub of city life.
Away from distractions of technology.
Away from anything that becomes too “big” and feels like an unwanted obligation.
Away from the things that draw me away from my values, God, and those I love.
Away from… but also toward… toward that which continues to bring life, peace, hope…
Restoration requires that I live intentionally and choose prayerfully.
I’m not sure about you but it seems all the clutter of life’s demands can easily distract me from my soul care – how I take care of myself – body, soul, and spirit, and with all my most cherished relationships – with God, family, and friends.
What’s Holding us Back fromReachingourGoals?
Even with the best of intentions, distractions pull us in different directions and the new resolutions, goals, and focus words can be easily forgotten.
Is it us – should we just do more or try harder? Or is it the distractions that are the real problem? Maybe it isn’t about trying harder maybe it is those nasty never-ending distractions that keep us busy resulting in exhaustion – a never-ending cycle.
The reality is any one of us can get tired after trying to climb over that same tall wall of distractions that occur daily because we are human and have limitations.
Maybe we need to figure out a different way to reduce the size of that wall that exhausts so many of us so we can make space in our hearts for newness, peace, and simplicity to grow in us.
Maybe we need to look in a few different directions so that we can get a clearer picture of what the distractions are how they impact us so we can decide what to guard against, what to keep and what to release. This way we can learn more about where we’ve come from, how we’ve grown so far, and even where we are going so that we have greater insight to make necessary adjustments along the way – no matter which stage of the journey we are on.
I finally figured out a process that helps me uncover ways to lower some of the walls in my life that lead me into that place of exhaustion. I must do this several times a year because all those distractions keep creeping in. Distractions are like fridge magnets that securely stick to the surface – the only way to take them off is to intentionally peel them off.
Examine the Wall fromaVarietyofDirections
I like to practice the art of being present to cultivate awareness of what is going on in and around me. I like looking up toward God for wisdom and insight, then looking back and reflecting on what I experienced, look in towards myself to learn how it impacted me, what I learned from it. I also look around and ask myself – How is this way of living and being affecting those whom I cherish the most?
Only after I’ve looked in those other directions, then I begin to consider what, from those experiences, I need to release and what I want to bring forward with me on the next step of my life journey. Then as I look forward, I can make plans, but I still hold them loosely so that I can be flexible enough to adjust for the future. All along the way I check-in with myself and do soul care – body, soul (thought, emotions, will) and spirit (my relationship with God and others).
So even though I use a WOTY theme to keep me focused it doesn’t keep me boxed-in in any way – and I can change it at any time – it isn’t fixed. My word tends to be an ever-moving target as I look up, back, look in and around me, and look forward. It’s an anchor word that keeps me grounded and helps me stay on track. And from my perspective there is no fear of failing because the goal is to cultivate awareness and then make appropriate directional moves no matter how small.
It’s like driving a car. I need to be present to where I am and need to be aware of what I need to stay safe and keep others safe. It’s important for me to aware of what is happening around me be it outside the car or inside the car. It’s filled with being fully present in the “here and now” – not filled with multi-tasking, busyness, noise, and distractions.
These following steps are what works for me:
Cultivate an awareness when climbing that wall gets exhausting and consider how it fits/doesn’t fit into my values, who I want to be known for, and my purpose/calling.
Look up (to God for wisdom and insight).
Look back (at the experiences that have happened).
Look in (at the impact of them on me body, soul, spirit).
Look around (at the impact of them on others in my inner circle).
Consider adjustments need to be made (bit by bit).
Look forward (with trust and anticipation for the good to come).
Reset and repeat on a regular basis.
What have I Learnedfrom this Experience?
I’m more likely to stay on track when I…
Show up daily with expectant anticipation for what God will show me.
Block off regular times in my calendar to reflect on a daily or weekly basis keeps me on track.
Remind myself if the word I chose isn’t working for my current circumstances, find another word that works.
Remember that it isn’t about performance, it’s about cultivating a life of character that builds wholeness, resilience, and hope – for myself and others, and in a way that honours God.
Remind myself when I forget it doesn’t mean I failed or that I’m a failure, it simply means I forgot or got distracted. I can reset and start again at any time because this is a process of cultivating awareness. Every step in the right direction helps build that awareness muscle.
Honour my unique identity, accept the authentic me and the impact of my limitations, extend grace and self-compassion on the days I get distracted, and remember I can reset and start anew at any time – it’s a process of persevering in the right direction.
Celebrate the ah-ha moments and give thanks to God for what He is showing you.
Invite others into the journey with me so that we can grow together and encourage one another.
My Key Take-aways…
The biggest thing I’ve learned about myself is that when I practice this kind of regular soul care rhythm, I’m more focused, rested, and content, etc. Only then I am less likely to get scattered, exhausted, forgetful, or overwhelmed with the busyness of life.
As I do the reset and repeat dance (which admittedly can be quite often) then I’m better able to look to the future with a new kind of awareness, anticipation, hope, and recognition that I’m only human and that is okay to be me. And I can celebrate God’s goodness!
How about you?
Have you Read myBookYet??
My book Embrace Life, Embrace Hope: Cultivating Wholeness and Resilience through the Unexpected was released June 15th, 2023 and is available at my publisher’s Word Alive Press, local Christian book retailers, Chapters/Indigo, Barnes and Noble, and many more.
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Fern E.M Buszowski MALM, MA Counselling (CPC) Speaker | Author | Thriving Cancer Survivor
Bringing words that encourage hope, faith, and love through the journey of life.